European Green Crab updates from the Washington Coast and Chuckanut Bay
WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species staff, Native American tribes, shellfish growers, and other partners continue working to reduce populations of invasive European green crabs to below levels harmful to environmental, economic, and cultural resources.
The following highlights are excerpted from our August European Green Crab Public Update.
These regular updates are intended to inform the public, local stakeholders, news media, and others regarding the status of European green crab (EGC) management and emergency measures deployment in Washington state. They are archived on our European green crab species webpage. You can also sign up for our European Green Crab Management Updates email list. For background, please see our June news release.
To report European green crab sightings or obtain identification resources, please visit: wdfw.wa.gov/greencrab
Field Highlight: EGC Removal Efforts in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay
European green crab monitoring and removal work continues to ramp-up in Washington’s coastal bays and estuaries thanks to the dedicated work and collaboration of groups including the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association, Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, Pacific County Vegetation Management, other local shellfish growers and tidelands owners, Washington Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Sea Grant, and WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species unit staff.
WDFW staff and partners have increasingly deployed resources to assess and remove EGC from Grays Harbor, including the North Bay area east of Ocean Shores where nearly 600 EGC were removed in late July. Similar assessments of EGC presence were conducted in the Grays Harbor South Bay and Elk River areas in early August, with more than 600 EGC removed by WDFW and nearly 2,000 removed by Pacific Shellfish. Cooperative work continues to allocate additional personnel, traps, and other resources to increase EGC removal in Grays Harbor.
In Willapa Bay, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe reports removing more than 20,000 EGC in areas near Tokeland so far in 2022. The Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association reports capturing and removing more than 25,000 EGC from tidelands on the Long Beach Peninsula so far in 2022. WDFW has been supporting their efforts with traps, bait, and other equipment. More information and updates are being posted to a Facebook page updated by one of their members. Pacific County Vegetation Management reports removing more than 7,000 EGC from Willapa Bay in 2022. THANK YOU!
Partner Highlight: Washington Sea Grant Crab Team volunteers detect EGC in Chuckanut Bay, WDFW follows up with rapid response trapping
For years, Washington Sea Grant (WSG) and their “Crab Team” volunteers have been leaders in community science support for European green crab research and early-detection monitoring across Washington’s marine waters. In recognition of that leadership, WSG’s Crab Team received the “Organization of the Year” award from WDFW for their EGC early detection program. More information is available in this news release.
In late July, Crab Team volunteers detected a single live European green crab in Chuckanut Bay south of Bellingham; an older female crab 77mm in size. More information is available in their recent blog post: https://wsg.washington.edu/first-crab-team-chuckanut-capture/.
WDFW previously detected three European green crab in Chuckanut Bay during assessment trapping in 2019, and Crab Team volunteers observed three molted EGC shells in 2020 and 2021.
Following the latest detection by WSG, WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species staff instituted “rapid response” protocols in late July and early August 2022, deploying more than 150 traps across the northern portion of Chuckanut Bay (including the “pocket estuary”) over the course of two nights.
WDFW only captured a single additional green crab at the mouth of Chuckanut Creek (this one a smaller, 59mm, male). This low capture rate despite heavy trapping effort is a positive sign that green crab numbers remain low in this area. It’s also an example of the effectiveness of both the WSG Crab Team’s community science monitoring work, and WDFW’s rapid response capabilities.
WSG Crab Team volunteers also recently detected one European green crab near Shine Tidelands in northern Hood Canal, and WDFW is currently assessing next steps for response in that area. Rapid response trapping was previously deployed in northern Hood Canal in May and June 2022.
Early-detection monitoring by WSG and WDFW continues across central and south Puget Sound. To date, European green crabs have not been confirmed in the Salish Sea south of northern Hood Canal and Marrowstone Island in Admiralty Inlet.
Photo credits: In mid-August, WDFW Aquatic Invasive Species unit staff were joined in the field — and in the mud — in Grays Harbor by colleagues from the company Esri, whom we are working with to improve geographic information data management and mapping to support Washington’s European green crab research, monitoring, and removal. These photos are courtesy of R. Richardson / Esri and were taken at WDFW’s Johns River Wildlife Area near Westport.