Invasive In-Depth: European Green Crab

  Capable of tolerating low-salinity areas, the European green crab ( Carcinus maenas ) can also be found in estuaries. (image via wikimedia.uploads.org)

 Capable of tolerating low-salinity areas, the European green crab (Carcinus maenas) can also be found in estuaries. (image via wikimedia.uploads.org)

     In this report from Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN), Dr. Hilary Neckles talks about the rapid destruction of eelgrass caused by the invasive European green crab. Blamed for wreaking havoc on Maine's shellfish populations as well (one crab can consume 40 half-inch clams a day), it is believed that European green crabs were first introduced to the United States in the 1800's, arriving by ship in the Cape Cod region. 

     Harbor Master Dan Devereaux noticed the considerable change in vegetation. "It was around 2011-12 we noticed a drastic decline." Devereaux estimates there was a 90% reduction in eelgrass populations in the Maquit Bay alone.

     Though studies show that the European green crab is most likely incapable of crossing deep ocean, it can easily hitch rides in ship hulls, packing seaweed and in bivalves moved for aquaculture. In fact, experts believe the crab, which established itself along the California area of the west coast in the late 1980's, is capable of becoming established along large portions the west coast, all the way to Alaska. 

     For more information on the European green crab, check out the links available below. 


1. http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/carcinus_maenas/