Cooked blue crabs. (Kevin Merritt)

Seafood dealers, restaurateurs and watermen say there's a good supply of blue crabs coming out of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries right now, despite the cold snap last winter that scientists say killed roughly a third of the population. Even with that apparent die-off, state biologists say the annual baywide survey tallied the second highest count since the late 1990s.

"It's plenty of crabs everywhere," said Janet Ruark of Rippons Brothers Seafood on Hoopers Island, a hotbed of crabbing in Dorchester County. "God's good," she said. "He always provides when it's needed."

The season for catching crabs in Maryland begins April 1, but it's often mid- to late May or even early June before the water warms enough that they're abundant. In the past few weeks, by several accounts, the supply has picked up

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