Chinese hairy crabs threaten the British ecosystem

Chinese hairy crabs - an invasive species with an increasing number of individuals, so authorities advise people in the UK to report when they encounter them.

Chinese hairy crabs can be as large as a plate and have characteristic hairs on their legs. Photo: Mikelane45/Getty

Chinese hairy crab ( Eriocheir sinensis ), also known as eggplant or Shanghai hairy crab, is a crustacean native to East Asia, New Scientist reported on October 13. Their characteristic feature is claws covered with fur like gloves. Their bodies are bluish-gray or dark brown, usually up to about 8 cm long, but their legs can stretch twice that long.

Over the past century, Chinese hairy crabs spread to many areas of the world, including Europe and North America, where they are considered an invasive species. They often live in freshwater environments such as rivers, canals and estuaries.

Chinese hairy crabs can damage the environment by burrowing into river beds, blocking waterways and damaging fishing gear with their sharp claws. Experts are also concerned that they may eat fish eggs and take over the resources of native organisms.

This animal was first discovered in England in 1935 on the Thames River. Since then, they have been present all over the UK. Recently, people have even encountered masses of hairy crabs crawling around water bodies in Cambridgeshire.

The Natural History Museum is running a "Hairy Crab Watch" program - calling on people to report their sightings. The UK Department for Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs also encourages people to report any hairy crab sightings. This can help experts monitor populations and prevent egg migration.

"The number is increasing because they have a very unusual lifestyle. After migrating downstream, adult females can lay three batches of eggs," explained expert Paul Clark at the Natural History Museum. Each clutch can consist of 500,000 - 1,000,000 eggs, Clark said.

To tackle the growing number of hairy crabs in the UK, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Welland and Deepings Drainage Authority, and the Natural History Museum have teamed up to install the first permanent hairy crab trap in Pode Hole. , Lincolnshire, in August.

This year 131 international organizations, from 73 countries, partnered with the PRA in Washington, D.C., and its Hernando De Soto Fellow Prof. Sary Levy-Carciente to produce the 17th edition of the IPRI..
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