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Second Invasive Green Crab Found In Washington’s Inland Waters

Craig Staude
courtesy Washington Sea Grant
The trap catch from the crab team at Westcott Bay, showing first evidence of European green crab in inland Washington waters. Now a second green crab has been found 30 miles away, at Padilla Bay.

Researchers from the Washington Sea Grant confirm that a crab found by staff of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is in fact one of the much dreaded invasive species. This is after one was trapped in San Juan Island’s Westcott Bay in late August.

Glen Alexander, the  Education Coordinator at the Padilla Bay Reserve, says he wasn’t really surprised when he found it, but it’s scary.

“Because they have the capacity to change things quite a bit. Definitely this fits the definition of an invasive, not just a non-native creature, but invasive – it can change the function of the beach,” he said.    

European Green crabs are voracious omnivores that out compete other species of crab and can destroy sensitive eel grass beds; there’s concern their longer-term effects could harm endangered salmon and other native species.

An intensive 3-day follow-up search for green crabs in the area around Westcott Bay last week found just one molt and no live specimens, indicating the population there is not yet firmly established. But with the finding of a second live crab 30 miles away, researchers say ongoing vigilance is critical across all Puget Sound shorelines.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to