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Crab, European green.png

The European green crab or European shore crab (Carcinus maenas) first entered the U.S. in the mid 1800's, coming by sailing ship to the Cape Cod region. In the early 1900's they spread northwards, arriving in Maine in the 1950's they are believed to have contributed to the dramatic declines in the soft shell clam fishery. Soon they had migrated all the way up to Nova Scotia. In 1989 they were discovered on the West Coast, in San Francisco Bay. They may have come in the ballast water of ships, they may have been shipped over hidden in the kelp packing around live main lobsters or Atlantic bait worms. They found protected embayments filled with molluscs, crustaceans, polychaetes and green algae for them to eat. Within three years they were well established. The crabs have a floating larval stage, and by 1993 they had reached Bodega Harbor, where they soon had an established population. In 1997, helped by strong El Nino currents, the crab had made it into Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia Estuaries. Although they have grown rapidly and reproduced, they have not been able to become well established. This may be partly attributed to rapid response and control efforts. The fact there have not been additional influxes coming up from southern waters may also be a contributing factor.

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