Jan 31, 2013

CRABS TERRORIZING MAINE COAST. So long, Maine mussel mats!

The little crab that would rule the Maine coast
Listen below to dramatic testimony before the Marine Resources Committee January 31, 2013 from longtime clammer/shellfish leader Chad Coffin, president of the Maine Clammers Association and a member of Friends of the Clammers.

Maine Clammers Association presentation & Q&A, by Chad Coffin   
Complete presentation and Q&A 36 minutes 36 seconds
Broken into sections:
Part 1  4min 30sec   Part 2 4min 56sec    Part 3 5min 15sec    Part 4 6min 27sec    Part 5 5min 28sec   Part 6 5min 40sec  

Highlights of Coffin's presentation:

We are in big trouble, 
Chad warned the legislators, The clams and mussels of the lower intertidal shores and the fishes of the shallow subtidal waters of Maine are vanishing. 

200 square miles of mussel beds have vanished from the intertidal Maine coast. These 6" thick mussel mats with up to 16,000 mussels per square foot, were a mainstay of the Eider ducks, which too are vanishing from our environment, along with many other organisms.  

Almost all of this, Chad Coffin told the legislators, is thanks to one small animal -  the European Green Crab, aka Carcinus Maenas. It has been around Maine since the late 19th century, but became  a serious clam predator in the 1950s. 

IN THE LAST TEN YEARS the green crab population has risen exponentially.  According to Coffin, they are eating Maine's intertidal and coastal shallows empty of all other lifeThe crabs eat the eggs of mummichogs and silversides and other small fish. They eat juvenile lobsters.  They out compete juvenile lobsters 63 out of 65 times for food and shelter. Carcinus Maenas  larvae eat zooplankton that are the food of mussel & clam larvae and adults. Older green crabs eat young mussels and clams themselves. Casco Bay has lost its mussels from its shallows and intertidal zone and a has experie3nced99.9 percent drop in clam spat settlment

At the close of Coffin's testimony, a legislator remarked sourly that Chad will soon have to deal with two more aggressive invaders: chinese mitten crabs and Asian Shore Crabs

What is to be done? Chad's not sure, beyond: see a green crab? Kill it!

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