Sunday, November 27, 2022
Nov. 27, 2022

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European green crab population remain low in Skagit County

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Mount Vernon — Four European green crabs were caught this week in Padilla Bay, bringing the total to seven caught this year.

All of the crabs have been found in the northern half of the bay and all were young, said Roger Fuller, stewardship coordinator at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The last five caught are believed to have been larvae this past spring.

“This is good news for us since it means we haven’t yet found a population of breeding adults within Padilla Bay, and our trapping has been successful in helping to prevent a new breeding population from getting established,” Fuller said.

Normally, trapping efforts in Padilla Bay stop in September, but this year they will be extended.

No invasive crabs were caught until July this year, which has Fuller concerned that more new crabs may still be arriving since five of the seven have been extremely young.

In 2021, there were 10 European crabs caught in Padilla Bay. Fuller said only two of those crabs were similarly young.

There have been 45 crabs found in Samish Bay as of Sept. 4, according to Fuller. However, trappings this week will cause that number to rise.

In August, the Northwest Straits Commission, the Northwest Straits Foundation and the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe set 30 traps on Clayton Beach and Upper Skagit Island.

And more than 700 traps were set in a joint effort by nine organizations Aug. 22-25 at the Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve.

During both of these efforts no European green crabs were trapped.

Although no crabs have been found in those areas, that does not mean they are not there, but that the populations remain low.

As of Sept. 4, 176,600 European green crabs have been captured and removed from state waters, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The European green crab is considered one of the world’s worst invasive species because of how it feeds on shellfish, small fish and Dungeness crab.

They also are known to destroy eelgrass beds and estuarine marsh habitats, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

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