Sean McDonald’s heart sank when he got the text last week.

“I was shocked and dismayed,” said the University of Washington shellfish and crab expert, “I was really hoping that we’d have more time.”

Citizen scientists volunteering with the Washington Sea Grant had found an adult male green crab on a routine sampling trip to San Juan Island’s Westcott Bay.

The crabs were first documented on the west coast in the late 1980s but this is their first appearance in Puget Sound. Their populations have been rising on the East Coast for decades, “wreaking havoc” on the ecosystem, McDonald said. The crabs eat pretty much everything they encounter — clams, snails, worms, seaweeds, grasses — and they burrow into the marsh, eroding banks and destroying habitat.

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