“Efficient predator”: Invasive European green crab found in new area of ​​Washington state

First it was murder hornsLater it was African claw frogsAnd do not forget the Japanese beetles,

Now it looks like the state of Washington has another invasive species problem – a European green crab was caught this week in Hood Canal, the farthest south the species has been found in the Salish Sea.

Volunteers with Washington Sea Grant caught the male European green crab in Nick’s Lagoon near Seabeck in Kitsap County, the group reported. The organization has been instructed by the state to track the spread of the crab early.

The crab was caught in Hood Canal, the farthest south the species has been found in the Salish Sea, said Washington Sea Grant.

Washington Sea Grant

Washington Sea Grant marine ecologist Emily Grason said in a news release that the crab arrived at the lagoon last year, based on its size.

“This group of solid volunteers has never missed a month in the mud, and they are literally our eyes in areas that managers do not always have the capacity to check regularly,” Grason said.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in response will increase catches there to assess the extent of the presence of green crabs and try to eradicate the species locally.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation in January to address a significant increase in European green crab populations within the Lummi Nation’s sea pond near Bellingham.

The crab is highly adaptable and kills juvenile mussels before they reach a ripe age, competing with native crab species and destroying marine and estuary ecosystems. The Latin name for the crab – Carcinus maenas – translated as “raging crazy crab.”

“A skilled colonizer and efficient predator, this small coastal crab has the potential to significantly alter any ecosystem it encounters,” says Washington Sea Grant. “It’s got the blame for the collapse of the soft-shell clam industry in Maine.”

It was first found in the inland waters of Washington in 2016.

Allen Pleus, the policy coordinator for Aquatic Invasive Species for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the agency is taking multiple steps “to control these invasive crabs and prevent them from harming environmental, economic and cultural resources.”

European coastal crab / green crab (Carcinus maenas), alien invasive species at low tide
European green crab (Carcinus maenas) was pictured at low tide, 08 August 2009.

Photo by: Arterra / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Fish and Wildlife instructs anyone who finds a suspected European green crab or shell to take a picture and report it online or by calling the staff of WDFW’s Aquatic Invasive Species.

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