For the past six years, a volunteer crew has been diligently visiting Nick’s Lagoon near Seabeck on Hood Canal, checking the waters for the destructive European green crab. The three citizen scientists have caught and released lots of native crabs — including thousands of hairy shore crabs. But, until May of this year, they never saw even one invasive green crab, known for its potential disruption of shellfish beds and destruction of native habitat. The discovery of a green crab in Central Hood Canal was fairly shocking for those involved. […]
As Americans, we have become all too familiar with the spread of a deadly virus and the terrible consequences of a delayed response to an outbreak. As a result of our experience, I’m wondering if some of us might have a more visceral sense about the need to control invasive species. I’m not saying that the ecological, economic and cultural disturbances wrought by invasive species are on par with a massive loss of human life. But the common denominator is a biological perturbation that occurs suddenly and threatens to expand […]
Baby zebra mussels, no bigger than a grain of rice, provoked an emergency response across the country in early March, and now state and federal officials are contemplating changes to protect the Northwest from an invasive species that some people have unknowingly invited into their fish tanks. Nothing official has been proposed, but experts are looking at possible procedures and import restrictions on certain brands of aquarium “moss balls,” which have been found to harbor invasive zebra mussels. Wyoming has already imposed a ban on imports of moss balls, and […]
While media reports were raising alarms about an invasion of dangerous “murder hornets,” Washington state entomologists were quietly planning a trapping program, which will mark the beginning of a search-and-destroy mission against the Asian giant hornets. Trapping has become a primary tool in the early detection of invasive species. Traps are often used to control or reduce breeding populations of destructive pests — from insects such as the gypsy moth to rodents such as nutria to aquatic organisms such as the European green crab. Officials with the Washington Department of […]
The state’s stay-at-home order has halted much of the field research that would normally be underway in Puget Sound this spring, but a small group of scientists and volunteers have been able to continue their search for an invading marauder along the shoreline. Their work has been classified as critical by the state. Eric Wagner reports for our magazine Salish Sea Currents on the search for the invasive green crab.
Researchers have been on high alert since the 2016 discovery of the invasive European green crab in Puget Sound. So far, monitoring teams have found relatively few crabs, but experts worry that a population could grow rapidly and damage the native ecosystem. Now a collaboration of volunteers, agencies and tribes is working to stop the crab’s spread. They say intensive, early action could make the difference. A new story map from the Puget Sound Institute and the Washington Sea Grant Crab Team documents the effort. View the story map on […]
Genetic testing shows that invasive European green crabs in Puget Sound likely did not come from the Sooke Basin in British Columbia as previously thought. New findings on the crab’s origins were presented at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. Scientists are looking at a variety of potential sources. Read the Story in Salish Sea Currents.
Last month, Puget Sound Institute senior writer Christopher Dunagan’s series on invasive species in Puget Sound highlighted some of the state’s worries about the arrival of the European green crab. The article noted that “the threat could be just around the corner.” It could not have been more timely. Several weeks after the article was published, volunteer crab spotters led by Washington Sea Grant made the region’s first green crab sighting. The crab was found on San Juan Island and it led to a rapid response coordinated by the state to find out if others had spread further. This week, another […]
Invasive species are among the three greatest threats to the environment worldwide, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Species ranging from microscopic viruses to larger creatures like rodents and non-native fish can alter the balance of entire ecosystems. The threat is well-known in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, which face their own unique challenges. This week, our magazine Salish Sea Currents looks at some of the ways that invasive species get into local waters. Senior writer Christopher Dunagan reports on two leading pathways that have caught the attention of regulators. Studies show that many invaders are […]
Hard to tell if this news is positive or foreboding, but the Puget Sound region starts another year with a clean bill of health on at least one front. The Washington Invasive Species Council reports that Washington is one of only five Western states remaining with no invasion of zebra mussels. That’s good for Washington as far as it goes, but in its recently released 2012 Annual Report to the Legislature, the council writes: “If introduced, the mussels can quickly spread through rivers and lakes, impacting native species, recreation, and […]