What better way to launch our forum on the seashore than to highlight the news today about the fantastic Henslow's Swimming Crab,which has reached our Northern shores for the first time, it is said as a result of sea tempurature rise.
Anyone had any sightings of this yet?
Is the arrival of a new species likely to cause harm to the local wildlife? What does it feed on? Will population numbers of its prey be affected?
I've heard that when new species arrive in an area, they can endanger the survival of British species. Will that happen here?
Non-native species are always a concern and there are many stories that point towards the arrival of non-natives becoming a conservation challenge to say the least, for example, the Harlequin ladybird and the crayfish, both of these non-natives have successfully out-competed our native species, contributing to indigenous population decline.
Henslow's swimming crab is omnivorous, which makes it a successful competitor for the food resources available. It is also highly predatory as an active swimmer. This trait along with the warmer North sea temperatures has allowed it to migrate to our waters where there is an abundance of prey - it does occupy a different ecological niche to many of our native crabs and so may not pose too much of a threat to our natives' food resources. However, it is too early to say just how much the introduction of this crab will affect the balance of the food web in our waters - this is something that will be closely monitored by researchers - hopefully! It may well be that in turn this crab will itself become a food source to sea-birds which should help to regulate the population.