Blue crab is the most popular type of crab on the east coast. They live in shallow water from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico. Maryland and the Virginia area have the largest concentration found in the U.S.. They average 5-7 inches across the body with the largest on record measuring 10.72 inches. They have a brownish or dark greenish color with blue tinges on the back and a cream color underneath. The male crab has blue tipped claws and the female has red tipped claws. Male crabs are called Jimmies. Young females are called sallies or she crabs. An adult female is a Sook.
The blue, like other crab, shed their hard shell during a molting period which enables them to grow and change their shape. After they shed their shell they have a temporary soft-shell which will eventually harden, usually in just a few hours. When they have a soft shell fishermen call them busters or soft-shell crab. It goes through this process about 20 times in its lifetime. The blue crab is the only crab that is sold commercially as soft-shell crab.
They mature in 12-18 months and have an average life span of about 3-4 years. Blue crab can sold live. Both the hard and soft-shell stages are available. After cleaning and cooking, the Soft-shell crab is eaten shell and all. . It can also be purchased as plain, cooked meat under the names of lump, flake or claw meat. Lump meat comes from the body, flake meat from the legs and the claw meat which has a brownish tint is from the claws. After cooking, the shell of the blue crab turns red. For tips on cooking see; HOW TO COOK BLUE CRAB
A quick video on how to clean them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT60uf4qT4I