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  • Writer's pictureJohn Painter

Green crabs as ecosystem engineers

Green crabs (Carcinus maenas) are recognized as one of the world worst #invasivespecies, likely introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1800's from ship ballast water the crabs have now spread along the East and West Coasts. The US Department of Environmental Protection estimated in 2008 that green crabs cause upwards of $22.6 million in damage to the environment and fisheries on the East Coast alone.

Here in Maine green crabs have decimated our soft shell clam and mussel populations, and we have know since the late 60's that with warming waters comes an increase in green crab populations and subsequent drop in clam population. Indeed the situation has become so dire, that some researchers question whether wild clam recruitment for reseeding clam beds is even worthwhile as green crabs at the #zoea stage of growth a the same size as clam larvae and settle into the same recruitment boxes and begin eating the clams from within a sealed environment.

Green crabs have also been documented in destruction of eel grass, a critical habitat for many marine species, and also natural buffers in our oceans which help mitigate wave action on our shorelines, thus limiting erosion.

So what can we do? We can learn about green crabs, and work to reduce their numbers and impact on marine ecosystems.

I invite you to follow along with me as I work to help transform green crabs from #environmental threat to #economic opportunity.

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