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‘Predatory’ invasive crabs found in Westport

A Chinese mitten crab, found recently in Westport. (Harbor Watch)

NORWALK, Conn. – Mitten crabs, an invasive species, have been found in Dead Man’s Brook, just south of the Westport Library.

“These crabs are predatory crabs, just very similar to the type of situation we had … when the Asian shore crabs first came into this area. They not only will be in the harbor, but they travel upstream. And they are a freshwater crab. …It’s just a matter of time till we start seeing them here in Norwalk. We don’t know what the impact will be on native species,” Mayor’s Water Quality Committee Chairman Joe Schnierlein said.

“The curse is spreading. There’s apparently a number of mitten crabs have been found in a Mianis River, and also the Mill River,” said Mayor’s Water Quality Committee member Dick Harris, who has been warning of mitten crabs for months.

 

A Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) flier.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) first confirmed a Chinese mitten crab in Connecticut waters in 2012.

“Where abundant, Chinese mitten crabs can damage fishing gear, clog pumps and intake pipes, cause riverbank erosion through their burrowing activities, and outcompete native species for food and habitat,” DEEP states on its website. “These crabs are relatively new to the Atlantic coast; however, and at this time it is unclear as to what their effects will actually be here.”

“People have been finding that they’re definitely here,” Harbor Watch Director Sarah Crosby said Monday. “The question is, to what extent are they going to establish significant population numbers here and how big of an impact will that have on our local ecosystems. I think that remains to be seen. It can be hugely harmful, in terms of competition with other native species.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) seized 3,700 live Mitten Crabs from a load of T shirt boxes at the Port of Cincinnati, Dick Harris said. Shipment originated in China and Hong Kong and were destined for businesses and homes in multiple states, mostly New York. (Contributed)

“The numbers of crabs caught keeps going up and there have been four gravid (egg bearing) females in the 16 crabs caught in the Estuary since late December 2020,” Harris wrote in July. “This is a freshwater crab that mates in salt water during late October and then burrows into the mud until spring. They are a real threat if the numbers increase dramatically because they can undermine riverbanks and cause structures to collapse.  Millions of dollars of damage has already occurred in Germany along the banks of the Rhine River and in San Francisco Bay.”

“I haven’t seen any guidance yet from the State and DEEP about what to do about it,” Crosby said Monday. “The best course of action at present is for folks to not release them and … to report them to the state because that they’re doing a lot of work to determine whether to assess whether there are any breeding populations here that might contribute to a more extensive growth of where we’re finding them, how many.

Comments

2 responses to “‘Predatory’ invasive crabs found in Westport”

  1. Analise

    Call Martha she will cook them to perfection a and serve with a lemon Dressing

  2. DryAsABone

    How do they taste? Even if used for broth, consumption is always a cure if it is marketed well.
    Connecticut Grown…

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