Invasive Species — European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas)


The European green crab is native to coastal Europe and North Africa, including the Baltic Sea in the east and Iceland and central Norway in the north. It is the most common crab throughout much of its range. Its feeding habits and tolerance of a wide variety of environmental conditions have enabled it to occupy numerous coastal communities outside its native range. Populations are now established on both coasts of North America, as well as Australia, Argentina, Japan, and South Africa.

Carcinus maenas was first observed on the east coast of North America in Massachusetts in 1817, and can now be found as far south as Virginia, and by 2007, as far north as Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, Canada. First found on the west coast in San Francisco Bay in 1989, the European green crab has since been spread throughout the west coast, reaching as far north as British Columbia, Canada. In 2011, populations were detected by Fisheries and Oceans, Canada at least 100 miles north of Vancouver Island, within two embayments along the coastal mainland of Queen Charlotte Sound.

Habitat Preference

The European green crab is tolerant of diverse climatic conditions such as temperature and salinity. They can inhabit shallow waters along the shores of diverse coastal areas, including estuaries, bays, and rocky intertidal areas. While they inhabit rocky intertidal zones in some areas of their distribution, on the west coast, they are most frequently found on estuarine mudflats.