Researchers from the Washington Sea Grant confirm that a crab found by staff of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is in fact one of the much dreaded invasive species. This is after one was trapped in San Juan Island’s Westcott Bay in late August.
Glen Alexander, the Education Coordinator at the Padilla Bay Reserve, says he wasn’t really surprised when he found it, but it’s scary.
“Because they have the capacity to change things quite a bit. Definitely this fits the definition of an invasive, not just a non-native creature, but invasive – it can change the function of the beach,” he said.
European Green crabs are voracious omnivores that out compete other species of crab and can destroy sensitive eel grass beds; there’s concern their longer-term effects could harm endangered salmon and other native species.
An intensive 3-day follow-up search for green crabs in the area around Westcott Bay last week found just one molt and no live specimens, indicating the population there is not yet firmly established. But with the finding of a second live crab 30 miles away, researchers say ongoing vigilance is critical across all Puget Sound shorelines.