A European green crab was captured in Hood Canal on Tuesday, the farthest south the invasive species has been found in the Salish Sea.
Volunteers with Washington Sea Grant, tasked by the state with early detection of the crab’s spread, trapped the male European green crab in Nick’s Lagoon near Seabeck, Kitsap County.
Emily Grason, a marine ecologist with Washington Sea Grant, said in a Wednesday news release the crab arrived at the lagoon last year, based on its size.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will now increase trapping in the area to assess the scope of the green crab presence and to attempt to locally eradicate the species.
Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation in January to address the increase in European green crab populations within the Lummi Nation’s sea pond. Last year, the Lummi Indian Business Council passed a resolution declaring a disaster after more than 70,000 European green crab were removed from the Nation’s waters.
The crab is highly adaptable and preys on juvenile clams before they reach harvestable age, out-competes native crab species, and wreaks havoc on marine and estuary ecosystems.
The crab, which can stow away on ships, showed up in East Coast waters in the 1800s. In the Pacific Northwest, the crab has been present for more than a decade in the coastal estuaries of Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor as well as off Oregon and Vancouver Island. It was first found in Washington’s inland waters in 2016.
WDFW instructs anyone who finds a suspected European green crab or its shell to take a picture and report it online or by calling WDFW’s Aquatic Invasive Species staff at 888-933-9247.
Information from Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press was included in this report.