An invasive species that can harm salmon could be headed towards the Skeena.
The European green crab has been spreading around Vancouver Island and federal scientists fear it could be moving towards the Skeena.
Multiple sightings of the crab were reported on Haida Gwaii in July 2020. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is now working with local governments there to keep an eye out for more.
Warmer-than-average temperatures due to climate change could be a factor.
“We’re now seeing conditions outside the ‘normal’ for us in B.C. and we don’t necessarily understand how that’s going to affect the invader,” DFO research scientist Tom Therriault told the Northern Sentinel.
But many scientists agree that warmer global temperatures, caused primarily by burning oil, gas and coal, make it easier for the European green crab to extend its habitat.
“As our climate changes, this species will continue expanding into new environments, being tolerant of a wide range of hot and cold temperatures,” reports the outlet Treehugger, citing research from the Journal of Experimental Biology.
This is not good for the Skeena because the crab can be destructive to eco-systems necessary to support salmon and other wild species.
“The green crab is considered one of the most invasive species in the marine environment,” a U.S. government website explains. “It has few predators, aggressively hunts and eats its prey, destroys seagrass, and outcompetes local species for food and habitat. It has been documented that green crab devour juvenile king crab as well as juvenile salmon.”
Scientists are urging people all along the coast to keep an eye out for the crab.
“One key identifier makes the outlier obvious – five clear spines on the side of each eye. While called green, it could be yellow, orange, or mottled and can be as large as four inches across,” the Northern Sentinel reports.