Maryland's Coastal Bays support a diverse and complex interaction of plant and animal communities, some of which, in turn, support valuable commercial and recreational industries. All depend on the quality of Coastal Bays habitat for survival. Overall living resources remain in good condition in the bays.
The blue crab population varied without trend, reflecting the biology of blue crabs as coastal spawners influenced by large scale environmental factors.
Fish communities generally appear to be in good condition, but there are concerns for some species. Indicator fish communities continue to be good/stable throughout the bays.
Hard clam abundance has increased and overall bottom species are in good condition (food for fish). Fewer scallops were documented (none in Chincoteague Bay since 2005).
Horseshoe crab spawning in the Maryland coastal bays typically peaks in June, and often continues throughout July. Populations are influenced by harvesting levels, habitat loss, and shorebird predation.
Many bird species also thrive in the Coastal Bays, but many are suffering from habitat loss.
A total of 19 species of animals and 89 species of plants are currently on the Maryland list of rare, threatened, or endangered species in the Coastal Bays (six of which are also federally listed). Endangered animal species found in the Coastal Bays include: Little white tiger beetle, Piping plover, Royal tern, White tiger beetle, and Wilson's plover.
Invasive species found in the Coastal Bays include: Japanese Shore Crab; Hemigrapsus sanguineus, Green Crab; Carcinus Maenus, and Codium, a seaweed. Though a true comprehensive assessment is lacking, the Maryland Coastal Bays National Estuary Program has developed a list of nuisance/exotic species in the Coastal Bays.
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