First invasive European green crab found in Hood Canal

SEATTLE (AP) — An invasive European green crab was captured this week in Hood Canal, the farthest south the species has been found in the Salish Sea.

Volunteers with Washington Sea Grant trapped the male European green crab in Nick’s Lagoon near Seabeck in Kitsap County, The Seattle Times reported. The organization has been tasked by the state with early detection of the crab’s spread.

Washington Sea Grant marine ecologist Emily Grason said in a news release the crab arrived at the lagoon last year, based on its size.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in response will increase trapping there to assess the scope of the green crab presence and try to locally eradicate the species.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation in January to address a significant increase in European green crab populations within the Lummi Nation’s sea pond near Bellingham.

The crab is highly adaptable and preys on juvenile clams before they reach harvestable age, out-competes native crab species, and wreaks havoc on marine and estuary ecosystems.

It was first found in Washington’s inland waters in 2016.

Fish and Wildlife instructs anyone who finds a suspected European green crab or shell to take a picture and report it online or by calling WDFW’s Aquatic Invasive Species staff at 888-933-9247.