Scientists are hoping to speed up efforts to stop the invasion of the harmful European green crabs in Puget Sound. The latest research uses the tiny hearts of green crabs collected in Puget Sound in order to connect their genetics to established populations elsewhere.
The crabs might be small, but they can multiply fast and destroy habitat, digging into eel-grass beds and turning them into mush. Those areas are important for native species like Dungeness crab and salmon.
My team was one of many, and I have to say, we had a blast every time we went out in the field for surveys. We’ve already committed to surveying again next season. I can only imagine the story was repeated among the other teams.
Here’s a little excerpt from the newsletter which was sent out at this years conclusion.
The 2017 Crab Team sampling season has officially concluded, and We – with a capital “W”, inclusive of the whole community of Crab Team volunteers, partners, cheerleaders and staff – can be very proud of what We’ve accomplished this year. A growing community of partners all pulling together to steward Washington’s pocket estuaries, doubling the number of sites in the monitoring network. This growth was facilitated by a groundswell of concern over the threat of invasive European green crab, and was only possible with the support of partners from tribes, federal and state agencies, and local stewardship groups.
Crab Team has matured at a critical window in the story of green crab in the Salish Sea. Volunteer monitoring and outreach yielded several confirmed detection’s of European green crab this year, most of them at new locations. The importance of the program and partnerships was nowhere more evident than at Dungeness Spit, where a collaborative effort with US Fish and Wildlife Service detected and responded to the largest population of green crab found to date. Results of intensive removal efforts there are promising, but monitoring must continue to ensure future generations of green crab don’t go undetected.
Crab Team staff have given our boots one final cleaning, and are ready settle down at the computer to analyze 2017 data (picture this), and plan for 2018. We’ll also be spending the winter in discussion with partners in British Columbia to assess the outlook for European green crab in the Salish Sea. No rest for the muddy! We want to again thank all of the adventurous volunteers, agency and tribal staff who tramped into the mud with us this year, and we can’t wait to get out there again with you in April!
No doubt 2018 will be both a busy and interesting year! In addition to the survey’s I’ll be continue my filming and editing of a short documentary for the Washington Sea Grant.