This summer our team caught up with the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC) to learn about their European Green Crab monitoring program.
The European green crabs are an aggressive, invasive species that have been found along the West and Central Coasts of Vancouver Island, however haven’t yet been detected in the Howe Sound. In collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the monitoring program was established in spring 2021 as an early detection program to determine if and when the green crab enters our region.
“We’re concerned that if a population establishes in Howe Sound, they could severely impact native ecosystems, in particular the eelgrass beds in the Squamish Estuary, which are home to juvenile salmon and many other native species,” said Clare Greenberg, the Executive Director of the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council.
The European Green Crab monitoring program involves a team of volunteers who work to survey the Howe Sound by setting crab traps – 1 site in Furry Creek and 2 sites around the Squamish Estuary – and then returning 24 hours later to collect & record data. Volunteers sampled consistently once a month at these sites from May-September 2021.
The monitoring program is supported in-part by the Squamish Community Foundation through the 2021 Annual Grants program. This July, SCF Chair, Suzie Soman, and Executive Director, Karen Clarke, travelled to Furry Creek to personally present the grant cheque to the SSISC team. They had a chance to learn about the program first-hand, and thankfully did not see any green crabs that day.
Community members in Squamish and the Howe Sound region can help prevent the introduction of aquatic invasives with the following actions:
- Learn how to identify and report European Green Crab
- Clean, Drain, Dry aquatic equipment (boats, fishing gear, SUPs, etc.) after each use, and especially when moving it between water bodies
- Take the free, online Aquatic Invasives 101 course
To learn more about this program, visit the SSISC website.