Irish beach walkers urged to report sightings of invasive crab species

Written on 03/12/2021

By Ciarán Mather

Beach walkers have been urged to report any sightings of a species of blue crabs that could have dangerous implications on the Irish ecosystem.

Sightings of the blue crab species have also been reported in other European countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway.

However, none have been spotted in Ireland until now.

The appeal has been made by The National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC), the organisation which collects and analyses data on Ireland’s biological diversity.

The Centre has warned that the first official blue crab sighting on the country's shores could be a sign that they have entered the Irish ecosystem, potentially threatening the existing environment.

It explained: 'This is the first blue crab sighting in Ireland, and it was seen and photographed on February 15 by Ruth McManus on Dollymount Strand.'

Keeping the blues at bay

'A second report was submitted on March 9 by Wesley Bell, this time of a blue crab claw found on Dollymount Strand,' the NBDC added.

It is suspected that this crab claw may have come from the blue crab seen on February 15 that was left on the strand.

This species of crab is native to the Atlantic coast of America.

The NBDC has since warned that this blue crab might negatively impact other crab species by competing with them for space and resources such as food.

It could also have disastrous effects on the environment: according to Invasive Species Ireland (ISI), creatures not native to ecosystems are the second greatest threat to biodiversity worldwide, just after habitat destruction.

The ISI added that annual environmental losses caused by introduced pests in countries such as the US, UK, Australia, South Africa, India, and Brazil have been calculated at over $100bn (€85.5 billion).