Volunteers are needed to bolster an effort to monitor western Washington's marine shorelines for European green crab, an invasive species that could spell trouble for Washington state's valuable commercial and recreational shellfish fisheries.
Five workshops have been scheduled to recruit and educate volunteers interested in monitoring marine waters for the crab. Sponsored by the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and Nahkeeta Northwest in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the workshops will provide identification tips on European green crab, an overview of the crab's West Coast invasion, plus monitoring and data collection techniques and protocols.
Volunteers will be asked to set traps once a month from April through September. No previous biology experience is necessary.
The workshop schedule is:
- March 10, Mukilteo Public Library from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.;
- March 12, Fairhaven Library (Bellingham) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.;
- March 23, Camp Long (West Seattle) from 10 a.m. to noon;
- March 23, Anna Wheelock branch of the Tacoma Public Library from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and
- March 24, Bremerton Public Library central branch from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Additional workshops will be scheduled for the northern Puget Sound region.
A major predator of clams and oysters, European green crab severely damaged the East Coast's softshell clam industry in the 19th century. The crabs were discovered a century later on the West Coast in San Francisco Bay, and they quickly began colonizing new habitats and spreading to other California bays and estuaries. The small crabs reproduce rapidly and compete for food and habitat with other crab species, including the native Dungeness crab, which supports popular recreational and valuable commercial fisheries.
The invasive species was first discovered in Oregon and Washington waters in 1998. Since then, more than 1,100 have been captured in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. While no European green crab have yet been found in Puget Sound, they have been found along the west coast of Vancouver Island, including Victoria, B.C.
Monitors are especially needed in northern Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, as well as in major ports, including Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Bremerton. One theory is that the crab spread via ship ballast water during its larval stage, which may lead to its introduction to inland Puget Sound waters.
More information is available by contacting Jean Olson of Nahkeeta Northwest, (360) 766-6008, or via e-mail at email@example.com.