Why Mitten-Crabs Are Making People Crabbit


“Crabbit” – adj. To be Grumpy. Often Scottish. See also; this coaster. And yes, that title’s a poor, purposeful, pun, but sparked by quite a pointed story. The Chinese Mitten Crab has invaded Scotland!

The Sinister-yet-fluffy Chinese Mitten Crab

Peculiar as these critters may be, this is actually really bad news for Scotland, as Chinese Mitten Crabs are listed among theTop 100 Worst Invasive Alien Species (though I can’t help but smile that the Top one on that list is the Crazy Ant). An Invasive Species means that the species is from one particular part of the world, where it’s adapted to life in that ecosystem… and now it’s found itself in a new ecosystem that it’s not used to and, more importantly, that new ecosystem isn’t adapted for it. My ‘favourite’ example of an Invasive is the beautiful Lion Fish currently wreaking havoc in the Caribbean – Lion Fish don’t really care what they eat, and the fish of the Caribbean aren’t adapted to recognise them as predators, so at the moment they’re staring blankly at this epic fish right up to the moment it eats it, and all its friends.

Click the fish to learn more from The Smithsonian…

So is this the problem with Mitten Crabs? Yeah, kinda. They, like Lion Fish, prey upon loads of different native British creatures, so it’s no small threat to the Scottish Salmon Fisheries. But there’s another trouble with having a invader like this; and ‘excitingly’ it’s that we don’t totally know what’ll happen… This is because of something called Trophic Cascades – and it means that everything’s interlinked. If Mitten Crabs effect a predatory species up in Scotland, that’s going to have some effect on their prey species, and vice-versa. Their disruption of otherwise stable river embankments could have all kinds of effects on water quality, and thereby everything that lives within and around that river. To put this into a Climate Change context (cos that’s important); transpose this invasive species for a slight change in water temperature, or salinity. That change could be as detrimental as a new predator to some very key species, or make the environment more amenable to invaders like this fuzzy-clawed bastard. Rather than go into Trophic Cascades further, I’m going to let George Monbiot explain it in this Beautiful video about Wolves. Seriously, watch it; it’s brilliant:

If you really want to know more about Mitten Crabs, here’s a less-than-riveting video about them.

Good News: Richard Sharp reckons we should eat the Mitten Crabs! Having recently got to sample Mud-Crab, I can vouch that they’re freaking delicious. Like the Caribbean Lion Fish, here’s one more critter you can tuck into knowing that you’re doing good for the world!

Richard Sharp’s new delicacy!


One thought on “Why Mitten-Crabs Are Making People Crabbit

  1. Pingback: PANDA 2.0: Setting The GM Record Straight | The Top Of The Tree

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