Invasive green crabs continue to threaten Puget Sound's most fragile ecosystems. As the crabs poise to move southward, scientists are concerned their funding to stop the spread may disappear.
"They look small, but they can be a really big problem," said UW Research Scientist Sean McDonald.
In Maine, the crabs are an established invader that's destroyed eel grass, an important habitat for shellfish. Similar habitat is home to Dungeness crab in Puget Sound.
Since the first spotting in 2016, green crab have now been located at seven different sites. McDonald and others are worried that the crabs will get more challenging to remove if they're able to make it to the south Sound, because the offspring in the area would likely stay in the area. They believe it would serve as an incubator for a species that needs no help reproducing.
"With the high reproductive capacity of this crab, a single pair of crabs can produce up to half a million offspring in a single year," said Washington Sea Grant Crab Team Progam Manager Emily Grason. "The concern is that if they get into south Puget Sound, they might end up growing a population really quickly."
Both Grason and McDonald say they're unsure if the state Legislature will continue funding their program.
"We need to know where these crabs are moving and how big the populations are becoming," McDonald said.
Find more information on how to help eradicate green crab here.