Chinese Mitten Crabs Invade Md. Waterways

EDGEWATER, Md. (WJZ)—Whether you’re a commercial waterman or catch crabs off a dock, scientists at the Smithsonian want your help. Researchers know a foreign invader called the mitten crab is here.

Alex DeMetrick reports that the worry is how fast they’re reproducing.

There are all kinds of ways to catch crabs. But over the past few years, odd ones have been turning up.

“And we dragged out the pot, and we looked at it and thought it was mud on the claws. And then we seen it was fur; it was fur on them,” said Vince Meyer, waterman.

It was a Chinese mitten crab, and it was sent to the Smithsonian’s Environmental Research Center south of Annapolis. Finding them is critical, before they reproduce.

“We’re hoping they won’t, but there is the potential for the population to get quite large,” said Monaca Noble, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

“The introduction of a new species as prolific as the mitten crab could be pretty ugly,” said Jonathan McKnight, DNR biologist. “In places where the creatures have gotten loose before, they’ve clogged intakes, they’ve increased erosion in fresh water streams where they’ve dug into the banks.”

The first mitten crab was found near Baltimore in 2005, and it likely arrived as a stowaway hidden in the ballast water of ships.

Since then, the Smithsonian has received 200 more reports of mitten crabs from the Chesapeake to Hudson Bay.

And unlike native blue crabs, mittens spend most of their lives in fresh water.

If one is caught…

“I guess the most important thing is they shouldn’t throw it back alive,” Noble said. “They should take it.  I’d like them to photograph it and go online where they caught it and when.”

The Smithsonian has set up a special web center to track the invaders and their numbers.

“In places where there’s a lot of mitten crabs and there’s competition for space, like in China, they can travel as much as 1,000 miles upstream,” Noble said.

To report mitten crabs, click here.

More from Alex DeMetrick
  • Bob

    First a army of destructive bugs invade, then fish take over, now it is crabs, what’s next the Chinese army? Oh wait, maybe they are disguised as illegal immigrants and the are already here to finish us off! The Unites States of China, OMG!!!!

    • Gretchen

      NOone wants your RUDE ass comments! Someone seems a bit racist!

      • Scott

        Chill out. It’s a joke.

      • Jesus Krist

        And no one wants your over sensitive stupid ass on here. It’s the internet get over it.

    • Baltimore Resident

      Now they will want instate tuition too

      • Queenfan

        Honestly, most of them seem to have family businesses. They know how to live the dream really.

  • williejoe

    Nothing good ever comes from the Pacific rim countries.

    • The Dexter

      except cars and most products, of course.

      • williejoe

        From the same pricks who brought you Pearl Harbor. Cars are now made in Detroit including Nissan & Toyota.

  • me

    i agree BOB
    Its gettin insane,and wasnt there an issue with toys from that part of the world too??????????

    • Kathy Hyde

      yes it was and since China hates us to begin with they are probably doing this to us on purpose tro destroy us .

      • Jamie Dorton

        yeah ,well read my comment further down….Id say its freakin obvious!!!!!

      • pigeon

        No dah

    • pigeon

      And jewelry – especially for children. Kinda makes you think (or should)!
      Most of your “designer” clothing, accessories, etc. come from China, Japan and/or Mexico along with other “small” countries, all of which still don’t have labor laws

      • williejoe

        If we didn’t gobble this s…..t up @ Walmart etc, They wouldn’t make it & ship it.

  • Chad

    LOL @ Bob

  • Maryjo Bramble

    Well, OK… they’re obviously here. My question is… CAN WE EAT THEM???

  • Charles Brooks

    Why can’t we have something cool invade from China like robe wearing kung fu masters? Nope, we get starlings and snake head fish. And now, some crab I can’t even eat! That’s it, I’m going over there with a bunch ofRockfish and Blue crabs. And dumping em in the Yangtze. See how they like it!

  • Carla Dull

    stink bugs, crabs ,the paint on toys ,killerbees .wats next

    • Baltimore Resident

      Its all coming to the end. Dec 21, 2012!! Or if you are Holy Roller it is is May 21, 2011.

      • Kimberly Blackwell

        i cant believe your actually dumb enough to believe that let alone write it under comments yeah the world is coming to an end HOWEVER NOONE NOS WEN JESUS WILL COME BACK NOT EVEN THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN HELL COME LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT AND B GONE IN A BLINK OF AN EYE!!!!

    • pigeon

      You don’t want to know!

  • We like Bob

    Good one Bob

  • Jamie Dorton

    Between the stink bugs, asian carp, tilapia hurting our largemouth bass population, & the snakehead fish(which were released here cuz theyre an “Asian delicacy” & its cheaper to catch em than it is to import) are eventually gonna decimate all of the fish in our waterways. Not to mention theyre killing off the shark population, & still killing whales! I say somthing needs to be done about the asian people & thier blatent disregard for life on this planet, these people disgust me, & i know that nothing is ever gonna be done about it because of politics & most everything we use is made there, but come on isnt there somthing we can do?

    • up yours

      You’re typical of the snobby, racist, democrats of MD. Choke on a mitten crab and die.

    • Jesus Krist

      Maybe we can offer you to them as a sacrifice. Not like you’re benefiting our economy or the American way of life in general.

  • George Chip Reed

    These crabs work for pennies a day!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Track Weather On The Go With Our App!

Listen Live