U.S. Water News Online
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland biologists confirmed that a
second Chinese mitten crab has been found in the Chesapeake Bay,
heightening worries the invasive species may have a foothold in the
The second crab was found more than a year ago in the Patapsco
River, the same river where the first Chinese mitten crab was
confirmed. A volunteer park ranger caught the crab last year and came
forward after seeing reports of the other Chinese mitten crab.
The ranger, Steve Takos, contacted the state Department of Natural
Resources, which confirmed it as a second example of the invader.
"It was exactly the same thing. The same mittens and everything,
but bigger than the one in the paper," Takos told The (Baltimore)
Sun. "I'm sure there are others out there."
State biologist Lynn Fegley said it is still unclear whether
mitten crabs are living and breeding in the Patapsco. Both crabs were
males. The crabs likely were inadvertently carried by a ship's
ballast, she said.
"Or we could have (mitten) crabs living here at very low
populations, so they are not often detected," Fegley said. "That's
the lesser of the possibilities, but it can't be ruled out."
The crabs -- their scientific name is Eriocheir sinensis -- are
prolific invaders. They can live in saltwater and freshwater, and
though it's unclear whether they'd compete with blue crabs, they can
damage riverbeds with their burrowing. Their name comes from black
hair on their claws that makes it appear they're wearing mittens.
Gregory Ruiz, a marine ecologist at the Smithsonian Institution's
Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, told The Washington Post
that it's too soon to know what the dangers are of the Chinese
"They could compete for food and habitat in some way. How that
plays out, in my view, is pretty uncertain at this point," he said.
Rom Lipcius, a researcher at the Virginia Institute for Marine
Science, said it's doubtful the mitten crab has established itself in
"We've done many, many surveys throughout the bay, and you'd think
we'd have caught them" before, he said. "It's not likely that we have
an actual resident viable population, but of course we're on the
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