Coping with crisis: how scientists are making an invasive crab a delicacy
The little green invader gobbling shellfish and destroying habitats in the Gulf of Maine could finally have a predator – humans
In the salt marshes and estuaries of New England, the most dominant and fearsome predator is a voracious invader that grows to just inches and lays waste to everything in its path.
The European green crab first arrived in the new world more than 200 years go, smuggling itself to American shores in the ballast holds of transatlantic ships.
But as the climate emergency warms the bountiful Gulf of Maine faster than 99% of the world’s ocean, the tiny crustacean is now seemingly unstoppable as its population grows unchecked.
Along Maine’s long, wrinkled coastline, the climate crisis gives and the climate crisis takes. The warming waters have provided the ideal environment for lobsters, leading to large and profitable hauls. But green crabs have taken hold, devastating soft-shell clam populations depended on for food and income, cutting their harvest to the lowest levels in nearly 90 years while simultaneously destroying eelgrass habitats that serve as nurseries for young fish.
For communities that depend on the Gulf of Maine, conversations are shifting from how to stop the warming to how to cope with it.
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