See bottom of page for other articles about this invasive green crab, including our finding the first one on Whidbey Island, and followup trapping
It is spring and with it comes another round of monitoring for the European Green crabs by our SWS citizen science volunteers. We are part of a big project covering many sites all over Puget Sound led by Washington Sea Grant (WSG) at the University of Washington and the WADFW. Dr. Emily Grason from the University of Washington is the coordinator. This will be the second full season of monitoring, although we did one month of monitoring in September of 2015 to get started. As of last year, we have four sites on Whidbey Island: Deer Lagoon, Lagoon Point, Race Lagoon, and Penn Cove Lagoon with Tom Vos, Kes Tautvydas/Bridget Simon, Jamie Hartley, and Charlie Seablom as team captains respectively. On Camano Island, there are two sites: Elger Bay and Iverson Spit with Jay Mouton and Kate Vagner as team captains. Each team has anywhere from 4 to 6 SWS volunteers and in some cases even 6 volunteers may not be enough. Once a month, during low tides from April thru September, the teams go to their sites and set traps, survey the wrack line for flora and fauna, and do a molt survey. Sometimes you may find green crab molt but not catch a live green crab. The next day the traps are examined and data collected on the catch. The monitoring season opened with workshops at Padilla Bay, Port Townsend and other places around Puget Sound earlier in the year where we learned the latest about green crabs and got our gear and data sheets. Several SWS volunteers attended, some returnees and other new volunteers.
So far we have not found any green crabs on Whidbey or Camano Island but that may not be the case in the future. Last year green crab molt was found at Wescot Bay on San Juan Island and then in September four green crabs were found in Padilla Bay. This year, unfortunately, on Wednesday 4/19 during the tenth year of monitoring at Dungeness Spit in Sequim, WA four green crabs were caught at Graveyard Spit in the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge. The WSA crab team immediately jumped on this and over the next few days five green crabs were captured each day. It is now safe to say that the invasion of green crabs into Puget Sound has started. Why are we concerned? It is because green crabs are destructive to eco systems by eroding mud banks, destroying eelgrass beds, competing with Dungeness crabs, and in general attacking anything that is smaller than they are like shore crabs. They are very aggressive even though they prefer to inhabit quiet estuaries and salt marsh canals.
Green crabs may be identified by the following characteristics: 5 spines to the outside of each eye; up to 4” across the carapace; wider at front than back of carapace. The color varies from dark mottled green to orange or red. Be on the lookout for these invaders, even checking molts you may find.
Find out more about WSG Crab Team and about identifying these invaders. [more]
Articles from Washington Sea Grant about our SWS activities in support of monitoring for invasive European Green Crab
- Trapping for European Green Crab on Whidbey Island – Lagoon Point – October 2017
- First European Crab Captured on Whidbey Island – Lagoon Point – September 2017
- our Deer Lagoon Team – spring 2017