She’s a large blue crab from the Chesapeake Bay with a sight impairment — she has two oysters growing on either side of her head near her eyes.
The crab is estimated to be about 2 years old and was found last week in a crab pot that belonged to the mayor of Tangier Island.
The mayor — James “Ooker” Eskridge — couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. As of Wednesday, wildlife experts at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said the crab was still alive.
Watermen and wildlife experts said she’s unique, and there’s a tale of how she got stuck with two oysters on her head.
Oyster larvae need something hard to attach on to and grow, experts said. Old oyster shells and reefs are perfect, but over the years their once-plentiful numbers in the Chesapeake Bay have diminished because of pollution, disease and over-harvesting, according to Tom Zolper, a spokesman for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
“You have much fewer hard surfaces for oyster larvae to find to set on,” Zolper said. “They’ll set on anything — even a crab shell.”
This set of oysters probably set on the crab a few months ago, he said. And it shows, he said, that the oyster larvae were probably “desperate” for something hard to set on.
Zolper said the foundation has heard from watermen who know the bay well that there are “occasionally” situations in which a “tiny oyster” grows on a crab’s claw or body, but having two in roughly the same location isn’t seen often.
“It’s very rare to see this,” Zolper said, “where two oysters have set on a crab in this sort of pattern with one on each side of the crab, almost over her eyes.”
— Chesapeake Bay Found (@chesapeakebay) May 31, 2017
But there’s one problem — it makes for eyesight problems.
Zolper said he would guess that the crab doesn’t like the oysters too much and probably had tried to get them off.
“Whatever she’s tried, she’s tried,” he said. “They’re there and they’re attached.”
Zolper said the crab probably cannot see straight ahead and can look only upward.
“That has to be a disability,” he said.