Volunteers remove 55 abandoned crab pots from Maryland's coastal bays

BERLIN, Md. - The Maryland Coastal Bays Program says that some of the 55 abandoned crab pots recovered last month from the back bays behind Assateague Island and Ocean City are on their way to be recycled.

Back in February, local watermen and volunteers partnered with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program to remove the abandoned crab pots from area waters. Officials say crabber Skip Maisel, first mate Charlie Travers and the Assateague Conservation Corps searched Manklin Creek, primarily finding and retrieving commercial pots that were lost from their original owners.

Environmental officials say these commercial pots are often lost when boaters run over floats, cutting the lines to pots and making it impossible for watermen to find and retrieve them.

Abandoned crab pots pose a threat to wildlife, as crabs, turtles and fish get stuck inside and can't escape. Last summer, one abandoned crab pot in Assawoman Bay was found to have more than 30 dead diamondback terrapins inside.

"Terrapins are attracted to the same type of food source as blue crabs," Sandi Smith of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program said. "Once a turtle gets into the pot, it is unable to get out. As terrapins are air breathers, once trapped, they eventually drown."

Though no terrapins were found in their February retrieval, volunteers did find blue crabs and multiple species of fish in the abandoned pots, both alive and dead.

The Maryland Coastal Bays Program says they only remove crab pots outside of crabbing season, meaning legal pots are not accidentally taken. Residents or visitors who see what appears to be an abandoned pot are encouraged to contact the Maryland Natural Resources Police at 410-260-8888.

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