Washington Sea Grant (WSG) is calling on beachgoers to be on the lookout for a "raving mad" crustacean that has colonized waters and threatened native shellfish from South Africa to the Pacific Coast.
The European green crab, a small, efficient and adaptable predator also known as Carcinus maenas, meaning “raving mad crab,” was discovered in 2012 in Sooke Inlet, just west of Victoria on the south end of Vancouver Island, a discovery that sounded the alarm for Puget Sound's shellfish beds.
The green crab feeds on a variety of organisms found in estuarine environments, including native shore crabs. It has been blamed for the collapse of the soft-shell clam industry in Maine, and might likewise affect native and commercial species in Puget Sound.
In response to the threat, WSG and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife have established a citizen science program dedicated to detecting the crab and monitoring pocket estuaries so that infestations can be caught early and measures taken to reduce the crab's impacts and prevent further spread.