Furry-clawed Asian crabs found in Delaware and Chesapeake Bays

Jun 04, 2007
Furry-clawed Asian crabs found in Delaware and Chesapeake Bays
The "furry-looking" claws distinguish the Chinese mitten crab from native crabs. This Chinese mitten crab was caught in the upper Chesapeake Bay on May 18. Credit: Gregory Ruiz, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Chinese mitten crabs, first reported in the Chesapeake Bay, are more widespread than initially thought. Four crabs have now been caught in Delaware Bay during the last week of May 2007, and may occur in other waters of the U.S. east coast.

In total, seven adult male mitten crabs have been documented from the two bays since 2005. Prior to this, the potentially invasive species had never been recorded from coastal waters of the eastern United States.

The mitten crab is native to eastern Asia and has already invaded Europe and the western United States, where it has established reproductive populations. The crab occurs in both freshwater and saltwater. Young crabs spend their lives in freshwater and migrate to saltwater estuaries for reproduction.

Named for the unusual thick fur-like coating on its claws, the mitten crab looks very different than native crabs and is easily recognized. It is listed as injurious wildlife under the Federal Lacey Act, due to its potential to cause ecological and economic damage.

“We don’t know the present status of this crab along the eastern U.S. coast” said Gregory Ruiz, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “At the moment, it is not clear whether these crabs are reproducing or established in the Mid-Atlantic region, or whether the captured crabs are just a few individuals that originated elsewhere.” These crabs may have arrived in the ballast water of ships or through live trade.

Source: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Explore further: Scottish zoo: 'Bad news' for pregnant giant panda

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Using sound to protect aquatic life

Apr 22, 2013

The large cargo ships that steam daily into Newark Bay unload more than the colorful containers stacked on deck - from their holds they also can release millions of gallons of water teeming with tiny sea creatures from faraway ...

Fighting ecological invaders efficiently

May 11, 2012

Siemens is using a special water-treatment technique to make ship traffic more environmentally friendly. By disinfecting the ballast water in ships, a system named Sicure protects marine environments from ...

Smithsonian NEMESIS tracks marine invaders online

Mar 12, 2012

Mitten crabs, zebra mussels and rock vomit: These and hundreds of other non-native species have invaded coastal regions throughout the United States, often causing dramatic changes to coastal ecosystems and ...

Recommended for you

DNA may have had humble beginnings as nutrient carrier

14 hours ago

New research intriguingly suggests that DNA, the genetic information carrier for humans and other complex life, might have had a rather humbler origin. In some microbes, a study shows, DNA pulls double duty ...

Central biobank for drug research

14 hours ago

For the development of new drugs it is crucial to work with stem cells, as these allow scientists to study the effects of new active pharmaceutical ingredients. But it has always been difficult to derive ...

No-take marine reserves a no-win for seahorses

15 hours ago

A UTS study on how seahorses are faring in no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) in NSW has revealed that where finishing is prohibited, seahorses aren't doing as well.

User comments : 0