Crab traps on the dock of the Chesapeake Bay

Seasonal Harvesting in the Bay

Grades 3

The Chesapeake Bay is home to millions of crabs and oysters, which can be harvested for economic and food industry purposes. The best time of year for the harvest is determined by weather patterns, as well as by the growth and survival conditions of the crabs and oysters. We will explore these topics and concepts in this lesson.

Teacher's Guide and Related Standards


I can explain how various climate and weather patterns can affect conditions of the Chesapeake Bay and how communities adapt to these effects.

Essential Questions

  • What economic benefits does the Chesapeake Bay provide?
  • What seasonal conditions are best for harvesting oysters versus crabs? Why is this the case?
  • Why are crabs and oysters important species in the Chesapeake Bay?

Water's Edge Clip

Thinking questions:

  • What characteristics of the Chesapeake Bay make it unique?
    • Where does it start and end?
    • How long is it?
    • How deep is it?
  • What were conditions like for African Americans working in the seafood packing plants? What was the reasoning behind these conditions?
  • During what times and seasons were oysters harvested?
  • During what times and seasons were crabs harvested?
  • What jobs did African American men and women have on the Chesapeake Bay?



Supplemental Enrichment Activities

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Oyster Facts

In this activity, students explore various facts about oysters. One important fact mentioned in the article is that oysters breed in the summer and become adults in the winter. Discuss how this evidence can be used to support the argument of when oysters should be harvested in the Chesapeake Bay?

» Go to Activity

Weather and Climate

Could Blue Crabs Weather a Changing Climate?

Watch the video and read the information about blue crabs and the weather conditions that are best for their growth and flourishment. How does this information help us understand the times of year when crabs are most often caught and used for food?

» Go to Website


Pounds of Oysters and Crabs Harvested Graph

Analyze the graph with students. Relate the patterns shown in the graph with what was described in the video - “crabs were not popular in the past until refrigeration technology advanced, so that crabs would spoil less and could be transported easily.” Further, have students interpret the trends in oyster harvesting.

» Go to Graph


Career Connections


This learning resource is a production of Maryland Public Television/Thinkport.