PORTLAND — Scientists say an explosion of invasive green crabs that threatens Maine's lucrative soft-shell clam industry appears to have tapered off, at least temporarily.


The crabs took over hundreds of acres of Maine mudflats last year, pressing regulators and fishermen into action to slow the crustacean's rapid growth.


This year, the amount of crabs is 10 percent of last year's level at a key Freeport trapping site, University of Maine at Machias marine ecology researcher Brian Beal said. And anecdotes from around Maine's coast suggest the same trend is happening elsewhere.


The harsh winter might have culled the population, Beal said. He added trappers are finding mostly smaller green crabs, suggesting the larger crabs often found last year may have died or gone out to deeper water.


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