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European green crab

Overview 

European green crab being measured in Drayton Harbor, Blaine WAEuropean green crabs (Carcinus maenas) are considered one of the world’s worst invasive species and were first discovered in the Salish Sea in 2016. As voracious predators and highly competitive, European green crabs can decimate shellfish populations, displace native crabs, and damage eelgrass and salt marsh habitats. Unless controlled, European green crabs can significantly impact biodiversity and nearshore ecosystems.

Until 2019, European Green Crabs were typically found in low numbers throughout Washington’s Salish Sea. During routine monitoring, a previously unknown population was discovered in 2019 in Drayton Harbor near Blaine, WA. This discovery led to a rapid response trapping effort throughout Drayton Harbor, leading to many more European green crabs being found. The Drayton Harbor population is one of the largest green crab populations in the Salish Sea, prompting concern from local and state organizations.

What we're doing

To prevent the establishment of a self-sustaining population of European green crabs, the Commission provides staff and technical support for trapping efforts in Drayton Harbor. Commission staff participate in targeted community outreach focused on green crab identification and informing local landowners about the implications of an established green crab population.

In collaboration with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Washington Sea Grant, Commission staff are working to remove as many European green crabs as possible from Drayton Harbor.

How we're doing it

This collaborative team established multiple trapping “hotspots” for European green crabs in Drayton Harbor during the initial rapid response trapping effort. These “hotspots” are trapped multiple times each month to catch as many European green crabs as possible. To make sure all potential European green crabs habitats are checked, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife and Commission staff set traps opportunistically around Drayton Harbor. 

What to do if you find one

If you do happen to find a European green crab, please do not remove it. It is illegal to possess European green crabs in Washington! Instead, take plenty of photos and report it to the Washington Sea Grant Crab Team.

Report a green crab sighting