Clint Johnson Kendrick, a resource management officer for Gwaii Haanas, discovered an invasive European green crab on Saturday, July 4, 2020 in Daajing Giids. (isawthistoday/iNaturalist photo)

‘A grave concern’: European green crabs discovered on Haida Gwaii

Aggressive invasive species discovered in Skidegate Inlet; working group formed to decide next steps

Gwaii Haanas resource management officer Clint Johnson Kendrick was out walking his dogs on July 4 when he saw something strange along the gravel beach at the Haydn Turner Campground in Daajing Giids.

To his horror, he had laid eyes on a dead European green crab (EGC), an aggressively invasive species that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) counts among the top 10 most unwanted species in the world.

“The ecological damage that these crabs can cause is a grave concern,” Kendrick told the Haida Gwaii Observer, adding they are a “scourge to ecosystems outside of their home.”

ALSO READ: COVID-19 restrictions may aid B.C.’s ongoing battle against invasive mussels

He quickly reported the sighting to the Haida Gwaii Invasive Species Group and based on his photo, DFO confirmed the dead crustacean was an adult male EGC, making it the first confirmed discovery of EGC on Haida Gwaii.

What’s worse, DFO spokesperson Lauren Girdler told the Observer initial site visits and trappings confirmed the presence of EGC in addition to the one found by Kendrick.

ALSO READ: Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Girdler said a working group including DFO, Parks Canada, the Council of the Haida Nation, and the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has been working on a preliminary plan to determine the extent of the invasion and decide next steps. Additional surveys will begin this week.

“EGC may pose a serious threat to marine ecosystems as they are voracious predators and can negatively impact economically and culturally important species and habitats, including eelgrass beds that provide food and cover for juvenile salmon and herring,” she said in an email.

Girdler also cautioned that there are many types of native crabs that are green in colour, but only the EGC has five spines on the outside of each eye.

She asked that anyone who finds a suspected EGC document the location where it was found as well as the date captured, and submit a photo and any other capture information to DFO at AISPACIFIC@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

For more information on identifying features, visit the DFO website.

ALSO READ: Haida Gwaii oceans project tracks alien invaders

According to DFO, EGC were first found in Canadian waters in 1951 in New Brunswick and have since expanded to many other locations in Atlantic Canada.

EGC are believed to have arrived in B.C. between 1998 and 1999 through larval transport. Since then they have been found along the entire west coast of Vancouver Island from Barkley Sound to Winter Harbour with isolated populations on the central coast.

In June, the Lax Kw’alaams Band near Prince Rupert reported that EGC larvae had been confirmed in the area.

ALSO READ: Spread of invasive species in Canada costs billions, changes environment

After hearing about the discovery of adult EGC on Haida Gwaii, Josh Temple, founder of the Coastal Restoration Society, told the Observer he believes more federal funding is needed to tackle the problem.

He said his society has been working on trapping and removing EGC within First Nations territories in B.C. for years, including projects throughout the south and west coasts of Vancouver Island.

“It’s unfortunate to hear that you guys have discovered them up there,” Temple said. “There’s going to be a real need for an aggressive response before they take hold.”

He reiterated that the crabs are “horrible destroyers of eelgrass beds” that are critical for rearing salmon, other fish and bivalves, and he believes the federal government should provide more resources for monitoring and control efforts.

Temple’s society expects no financial contribution from the First Nations they work with — “I don’t think it would be fair to rely on the First Nations to pay … to clean up a mess they didn’t create,” he said — primarily relying instead on fundraising from private and marine industry partners.

“I would hope to see more dedicated funding allocated for these programs,” he said.

ALSO READ: Haida Nation dives into 3-year project to restore marine habitat around old logging sites

Do you have something we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

First downtown parklet patio installed on 1st Avenue

Social distancing regulations will determine the total seat count

LSS students make video to commemorate 2020 musical

The LSS production of Newsies was cancelled due to COVID-19

Local handyman crafts emergency float from recycled materials

Pieter Stegeman built Air-Float-One to keep himself busy during the pandemic

Tent Island closed due to neglect and abuse from campers

Illegal campfires common on Penelakut Tribe reserve land

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

Most Read