Watchful residents and visitors might have noticed monthly activity at the head of Blakely Harbor, just inside the old log pond. From April through September, volunteers with Washington Sea Grant Crab Team look for evidence of invasive European green crabs. And no, none have been found in this area to date, thankfully!
Six traps are set at a low tide and retrieved the next day. The contents are then photographed, crabs are identified by species, measured, the sex noted, and then native animals are released back into the water. Native crabs found in the Blakely Harbor traps have included two species of shore crabs, Dungeness crabs, graceful crabs, kelp crabs and large numbers of red rock crabs.
The team has found more than just crabs in the traps. Other visitors, lured by the smelly but inaccessible mackerel bait, have included bay pipe fish, staghorn and tidepool sculpins, gunnels, shiner perch, flounder, shrimp and tiny jellyfish.
Data collected from the monthly trapping are sent to Washington Sea Grant to be compiled along with similar data from 55 other sites around Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. When European green crabs are located, as they have been at Sequim Bay, Dungeness Spit and a few other sites well to the north of here, a major effort is made to determine the extent of the invasion and to trap as many green crabs as possible. The hope is to eliminate them before they can colonize an area and begin to do major damage.
This information is being shared with Friends of Blakely Harbor in part because we have had an unfortunate occurrence during our May monitoring. Between the time the traps were set in the water and before they could be retrieved less than 24 hours later, the traps were removed from the water where they were anchored, opened, and left on the shore, which meant that many of the animals in the traps perished.
Some of the scientific equipment was damaged or lost. The traps all carry an ID tag which indicates they are for research purposes. There will be continued research during the months of June through September. If you find the traps out of the water, please phone a team member at 206-842-5133 so we can return the trap(s) to the water.
To learn more about the green crab monitoring, you can find information, including how to identify and report possible sightings of invasive European green crabs at https://wsg.washington.edu/crabteam/. You can also sign up for the electronic newsletter.