P. Sean McDonald, PhD
Lecturer/Capstone Instructor – PoE
Research Scientist – SAFS
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-5679
A new population of invasive European green crab has been found at Dungeness Spit, near Sequim, Washington, rekindling concern over the potential for damage to local marine life and shorelines.
The first discovery of this globally damaging invasive crab in Washington’s Salish Sea was made by Crab Team volunteers last August on San Juan Island, followed quickly by a detection at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, near Mt. Vernon. In both cases, rapid-response trapping and removal by a joint-agency team showed that the crabs were present, but still very rare in those locations.Staff and volunteers from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge, captured a total of 13 European green crab over the past two weeks as part of the UW-based Washington Sea Grant Crab Team early detection program. These numbers indicate that the invasive crabs are more abundant at Dungeness Spit than at the two other known locations in Washington’s inland waters.
“This is a very different situation,” said Crab Team program coordinator Emily Grason. “In Padilla Bay, the crabs we found were too far apart to find and mate with each other, but at Dungeness Spit, multiple crabs are being found at the same site, over successive days of trapping. This indicates a situation where the population could grow very quickly, if we don’t intervene.”
Are you interested in a very short-term volunteer project to help Puget Sound? The Crab Team invasive green crab monitoring program needs help on Friday, April 7th preparing bait for the upcoming monitoring season.
Crab Team is a partnership between Washington Sea Grant, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, and others to lead a volunteer-based early detection and monitoring program to improve our understanding of native salt marsh and pocket estuary organisms, and how they could be affected by green crabs. https://wsg.washington.edu/community-outreach/environmental-threats/invasive-green-crab-volunteer-monitoring/
On Friday, April 7th, we’ll be cutting, weighing, and bagging crab bait (mackerel) that will be distributed to volunteers throughout Puget Sound. No prior experience is required but you should have a strong stomach and not be too squeamish about blood (mackerel blood, that is). You should wear ‘field clothes’ you don’t mind getting dirty/stinky. It’s smelly, messy work but we make it fun. Check this out: https://twitter.com/pseanmc/status/846793167630319616
Select as many of the following 2-hour blocks as you’d like and respond to this email. Minimum commitment is 2-hours but the fun will last. All. Day. Long.
April 7th in FSH 332
For more information, contact Sean firstname.lastname@example.org
This article comes from “Tide Bites”, the monthly newsletter of UW Friday Harbor Laboratories. “Red rock crabs: the Dungeness’ grouchy cousins” by Sylvia Yamada and Scott Groth: read the full article at the FHL website.
Native red rock crabs (Cancer productus) are important predators on protected rocky nearshore communities from Alaska to Baja California. While they are harvested recreationally, they have not been as well studied as their commercially-valuable cousin, the Dungeness crab. Red rock crabs are abundant on semi-protected rock and boulder beaches where the substrate is composed of sand and shell gravel and where the salinity remains high. They have voracious appetites, feeding on a wide variety of species including barnacles, mussels, clams, oysters, snails, worms and sea cucumbers. Adults are highly mobile and are known to move into the high intertidal during flood tides to forage. We decided to piece together the life cycle of the red rock crab by compiling what was learned through various studies carried out on different life stages at Friday Harbor Laboratories.