This past week our team travelled to Kejimkujik Seaside National Park to learn more about their Gone Crabbin’ program. The exciting activity allows participants to experience how the park is working to restore ecosystems impacted by the invasive European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas). We began our trip with a guided walk led by Colleen Anderson, Interpretation Officer/Coordinator with the Park. She pointed out many interesting flowers and the unique coastal barrens landscape that surrounded the trail, which isn’t actually ‘barren’ at all. One nifty flower seen throughout the day was the Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea), a carnivorous plant found primarily in bogs. As the name implies, at the bottom of the leafless stalk, it has a pitcher filled with nutrient rich water that attracts soon to be eaten insects. The flower may be familiar to you as it is the floral emblem of the province of Newfoundland.
The initial crab invasion occurred across Atlantic Canada in the 1950’s. It was followed by a more cold-water tolerant and aggressive Green Crab invasion in the 1980’s, which was attributed to the collapse of several shellfish fisheries across North America’s eastern seaboard. Green Crabs are now known to out compete native species for food resource, high reproductive capacity, their unending appetite for shellfish and destruction of eelgrass beds. They are often referred to as the cockroaches of the sea.
By 2010, the eelgrass coverage in Little Port Joli Estuary had been diminished to less than 2% of its historical expanse. Through the efforts made by the Conservation and Restoration Program, the estuary has returned to 38% overall eelgrass coverage. One key to success was an efficient trap design developed with the help of local fishing expertise. The trap was so efficient, it once caught 1000 crabs overnight.
Much about the molting cycles of the green crab is still unknown and a large part of the effort being made at Kejimkujik is in studying the crabs. The pictures below show some of the holding pens they currently use to study molting and how factors such as water temperature play a role in the process. If crab molting can be correctly predicted it may increase the marketability of the crab, which in turn increases the efforts to lower populations.
The Gone Crabbin’ program was a fantastic opportunity to experience first hand a strategy that has shown itself successful in reducing an invasive species population, while also returning Little Port Joli Estuary to its previous glory. We would like to thank Kejimkujik Seaside Nation Park and encourage anyone in the area to attend this seacoast adventure. Click here for more information on the program.
Earlier this week, we welcomed Nick Hawkins, a wildlife and conservation photographer, to the centre. He will be staying with us for close to two weeks as he documents different coastal and marine areas while showing what makes this region special. Nick has produced feature articles for Canadian Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine and Canadian Wildlife Magazine. We are very excited to have one of the world’s top wildlife, nature and culture photographers spend some time with us this summer! The next edition of our Friday Field Notes will highlight his work and the amazing photographs he has already taken. Here is a sneak peek of what’s to come.
On Wednesday, we visited the Lillian Benham Library in Lockeport, where we set up a small display to promote the Centre and our summer Wild Wednesday program. We will be returning in September for a presentation on our action-packed summer. On behalf of the Harrison Lewis Centre, I’d like to thank the very kind and accommodating library staff.
Come join us for our first Wild Wednesday of the summer! Every week we will be hosting free educational activities, for all ages, on various nature topics. This week is the DIY Forest Terrarium where you will learn about our local ecosystem by creating your very own take-home terrarium.
Finally, here are the interns enjoying a much-deserved break after a tough day at work!
Until next time,