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Fishing For Life

Study Finds Asian Shore Crabs Fitting in Nicely

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Many of you already know that the Asian crabs are an invasive species. The good people at Brown have found that they're not doing any harm.

 

Crabs

 

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Uninvited immigrants can pose a big problem in the natural world. Zebra mussels, which made their way from Russia, now block pipelines in the Great Lakes. Kudzu, a Japanese vine species that can grow a foot per day, is destroying trees throughout the Southeast.

 

But the small Asian shore crabs, which invaded the Northeast in 1988 and can often be found by turning over rocks on some of Rhode Island's not-so-sandy beaches, are fitting in nicely, according to a new Brown University study of a creatures.

 

"Usually an invasive species comes in and pushes everything out of the way," said marine ecologist Andrew Altieri, an author of a new paper in the journal Ecology. "Here we have a case where they are in the places with the highest diversity and tend to be the happiest places for the other animals."

 

The crabs are typically an inch and a half wide and "they are just super abundant in some areas [on cobblestone beaches]. When you start turning over rocks you realize that they're everywhere under foot."

 

First carried to the U.S. in the ballast of a ship, now they can be found from Maine to North Carolina.

 

Altieri and his colleagues found that the crabs have found a home amid the region's cordgrass and ribbed mussels, sometimes called angelwings.

 

The grass and mussels shade the crabs from sunlight and predators without crowding out other species found at the sample sites on Narragansett Bay and Mount Hope Bay. Said Altieri: "It's a moist, stable environment in an otherwise harsh environment. It's the key to their success, the reason why they're so abundant." - C. Eugene Emery Jr.

 

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I was crabbing at the harbor, this one in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, when I caught a 6 inch crab. Now, I was crabbing for Blue Claws now. This crab was not a green crab, horshoecrab, blue claw crab. I had a magazine in my pocket showing what the invasive crab looked like. This closely resembled the crab I caught. In one of the pages, it said to report the catch, and the location and time of catch. I wanted to call the NJ Fish and Wildlife, but I wanted it to live on and enjoy its life. I safely released the crab, unharmed. But a part of me told me that I should've called. Did I do the right thing? What would you have done?headscratch.gifsmile.gif

 

-FH21

 

 

P.S. This was caught last summer in 85 degree weather.

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