The European Green Crab is one of the world’s 10 most unwanted species.
This aggressive invasive crab competes for prey and has the potential to upset the overall balance of our local marine ecosystem. European Green Crabs feed on a variety of intertidal animals, including oysters, mussels, clams, small fish, and juvenile crabs. They’ve also been known to disrupt eelgrass beds (important habitat for young salmon) and can destroy shellfish habitat.
We’re concerned that they may be spreading into Howe Sound.
Howe Sound (Átl’ka7tsem) and the Squamish River Estuary (Skwelwil’em) are home to an abundance of species, including native shore crabs, juvenile salmon, seabirds, shellfish, rare glass sponge reefs, endangered rockfish, and much more. A European Green Crab infestation could significantly threaten the unique marine wildlife in this area.
European Green Crabs have recently been found in Boundary Bay (just south of Vancouver) and on Salt Spring Island (near the entrance of Howe Sound). They have a long early life (larval stage) of 50 to 80 days, when they drift in the ocean current before settling to the bottom. The adult green crab is also very hardy and can survive out of the water for over 5 days, hiding in fishing gear and equipment or, at the bottom of crates, buckets and boats.
Volunteering with Crab Team
*Applications for Crab Team volunteers are currently closed – check back in spring 2022*
We need to know if this invasive crab has found its way to Howe Sound. This spring (2021), in collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), we launched a European Green Crab monitoring program – Crab Team.
We recruited 9 local volunteers as ‘citizen scientists‘ to help us survey for European Green Crab in Howe Sound. This involved setting crab traps at 1 site in Furry Creek and 2 sites around the Squamish Estuary, and then returning 24 hours later to collect & record data. Volunteers sampled consistently once a month at these sites from May-September in, and we’re happy to announce that, in 2021, we found no evidence of European Green Crab in Howe Sound.
Thank-you to our supporters!
We’d like to extend a huge thank-you to our committed volunteers and funders (the Squamish Community Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and TD Friends of the Environment) – we couldn’t have done it without all of you!
SSISC plans to continue this monitoring program in years to come. If / when European Green Crab arrive in Howe Sound, we want to know as soon as possible.
* Check back in spring 2022 for our volunteer application *
Learn more about European Green Crab and its impacts:
- European Green Crab species profile page via Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Impacts of European green crab in British Columbia webinar via ISCBC
- Report a possible sighting of European Green Crab
Email Ellika at email@example.com