The European green crab is a damaging invasive species that has wreaked havoc on ecosystems around the world, and recently they’ve found their way into the Salish Sea. Thanks to Washington Sea Grant’s Crab Team, major scientifically based efforts are being made to stop its spread before it starts. For this use of science to improve the health of the Salish Sea, this Earth Day they have been announced as winners of our 2020 Salish Sea Science Prize, which comes with a $2,000 no-strings-attached cash award.
When introduced into ecosystems outside of its native range, the green crab’s impact has been both ecological and economic. Not only do they disturb native habitat, displace resident species and alter natural food webs, but they have decimated shellfish industries upon which livelihoods depend.
Amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Crab Team’s work is a reminder that intervention is most effective before the impacts of an invasion even become visible.
Emily Grason, Program Manager for Crab Team, says, "This species is probably the most notorious and damaging marine invasive on the planet, and it’s unfortunately not just on our doorstep here in the Salish Sea, but it’s wandered into our foyer as well. Our goal is to keep it from overstaying its welcome."