European Green Crab

European Green Crab

Why are European green crabs a concern?

• The European green crab is considered one of the world’s worst invasive species.

• These crabs feed on clams, mussels, and other native shellfish. While digging for their next meal, green crabs can destroy habitats that salmon rely on, such as eelgrass beds.

• Invasive European green crabs threaten Washington’s environment, coastal economies, and tribal and cultural resources.

• European green crabs have been blamed for the collapse of Maine’s soft-shell clam industry. One green crab can eat 40 half-inch clams a day. These crabs now threaten tribal First Foods and Washington’s shellfish and aquaculture industries.

How to identify European green crabs?

• The best way to identify the European green crab is by the five spines on either side of their eyes. No other crab in Washington state has this characteristic.

• Color is not the best way to identify these crabs, as they can be green, red, brown or orange.

• European green crabs are found along the shore, typically in less than 25 feet of water. They prefer areas protected from ocean waves or currents, such as mudflats, tidal sloughs, and river mouths (which are also known as estuaries).

• In Washington state, the European green crab is most often confused with the native hairy shore crab or helmet crab.

What you can do?

• Next time you are at the beach, look out for European green crabs. Report any suspected green crabs (alive or dead) to WDFW as soon as possible at:

• For people who own beaches, tidelands or shellfish beds, support and permits for European green crab trapping may be available.

• We are not asking the public to kill suspected European green crabs at this time. This is to protect native crabs, who have been misidentified as green crabs and killed.

• As a Prohibited Invasive species in Washington, under state law it is illegal to possess a live European green crab. In this context, possess means transported, bought, or sold.

European Green Crab