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Beach walkers urged to be on alert after invasive blue crab spotted on Irish beach

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The Blue crab spotted in Dollymount Strand. Photo: Ruth Mcmanus.

The Blue crab spotted in Dollymount Strand. Photo: Ruth Mcmanus.

The Blue crab spotted in Dollymount Strand. Photo: Ruth Mcmanus.

THE public has been urged to be on the alert for unusual sea creatures on our shores, after the first sighting of an invasive blue crab which could threaten native species.

The blue crab is considered an invasive species in Europe and is native to the Atlantic coast of America.

But a member of the public spotted one of the creatures on Dublin’s Dollymount Strand and reported it to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

There have been a few sightings of the blue crab in other European countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway, but none before this in Ireland or the UK.

It is unknown how the blue crab came to Irish shores but investigations by experts from bodies including the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority are currently ongoing.

Biodiversity experts believe the creature, which is about 20cm across, may have been purchased by a food business or unintentionally transported to these shores in ship ballast water or on a ship's hull.

There is also speculation it may have naturally spread from other areas as it has been spotted in the Mediterranean Sea.

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“Blue crab might negatively impact on other crab species by competing with them for space and resources such as food and as a result increase mortality and affect the distribution and dynamics of native crabs,” Ireland’s National Biodiversity Data Centre warned.

“In its invaded range, commercial fishing is one of the most affected sectors, as the crab accidentally destroys the nets when they are caught.”

The crab has shown to have high fertility, highly aggressive behaviour and high survival rates outside its native range which might be why it has established and spread so quickly.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre has issued an appeal to the public to report any suspected sightings of the distinctive blue species with a photo to their website.

It also warned that it is illegal to release non-native species to the wild in Ireland as it could result in the species becoming invasive here, while the released species may also struggle to survive.


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