Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chinese Mitten Crab

Eriocheir sinensis
Today we're going to learn about the Chinese Mitten Crab-- a Crustacean named for its large, furry front claws.

You may not think too much about the environmental impacts this crab, whose body is about the size of a fist, but they are actually a very troublesome invasive species! Chinese Mitten Crabs are native to eastern Asia, but they have now spread to Europe and North America as well.

Chinese Mitten Crabs are troublesome because they make large migrations, displacing native species at every step of the journey. They breed in the oceans, grow up in freshwater rives, and hatch in estuaries. Due to their movements they can even be found hundreds of miles from the sea! In all of those different habitats the Crabs compete with native species for food and burrows. They also damage fishing nets, and have caused that industry to lose great amounts of money.

Not everyone is frustrated with the Chinese Mitten Crabs though-- they are a delicacy in parts of China and some can sell for over $100 a kilogram!

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Native to Asia
Size : Carapace up to 4in (10cm) in diameter
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Malacostraca -- Order : Decapoda
Family : Varunidae -- Genus : Eriocheir -- Species : E. sinensis
Image : NHM

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