European green crabs were found on the shores of the Padilla Bay. The species seems to be invading its local relatives. Authorities are trying to remove them to keep our waters clean and safe for native species.
So far, four European green crabs were found. The first one was just discovered close to the shore. The others three were caught by specialists and removed from the water. What is interesting is that they were not found in the same place. This means that individuals are spread all over the area of the Padilla Bay.
The invasive European green crabs are not welcomed by specialists or by other local species. What these crabs do is feed on worms and clams which stand as the primary source of food for other species. Experts have been monitoring the green crabs in recent years and observed that they could cause damage to local ecosystems.
Wildlife experts feel relieved that they have only found four European green crabs so far. However, they consider the possibility of large populations being around. If more specimens come to our shores, it can turn into a real invasion.
The Padilla Bay is part of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. This means that the area is carefully monitored by specialists. They know that the mudflats exposed by at low tide stand as healthy ecosystems. They host animals, birds, and insects whose balance could be disturbed by the sudden appearance of non-native species, such as the European green crabs.
Lab tests will let the researchers know whether the green crabs have mated. This would lead them to investigate more on baby green crabs if that were the case. The Fish & Wildlife and Washington Sea Grant Department will also receive the information.
For the time being, there are almost two hundred traps in over thirty different spots in Padilla Bay. The researchers have been setting them for the past week. If there are more European green crabs in those waters, the traps will inevitably reduce their number.
The fact that they have caught only three so far is a good sign. However, researchers think it is wise to wait more time before reaching a conclusion. Moreover, monitoring generally takes time. Researchers are also aware that green crab larvae can be transported from distant places by boats, and the waters would still get infected.
However, because Padilla Bay is a reserve, and researchers are constantly monitoring the activity of animals.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia