You think you’re a big eater? No matter how much damage you can do at the all-you-can-eat buffet, you’re not even in the same league as the green crab. These creatures are voracious.
In a single day one green crab can eat forty to fifty clams. Over the last decade, because of warming ocean waters, the number of green crabs in Maine and New Hampshire has exploded and the consequences for the clam population have been dire. This is bad news for anyone who likes clams. “It’s even more terrible for the people who want to harvest and sell them for a living,” says Gabby Bradt, a fisheries expert at the University of New Hampshire. “Green crabs can decimate a clam bed, especially soft shell clam beds, in no time.”
What can be done about the problem? Bradt is working on one possible answer. She’s trying to learn more about the molting habits of green crabs because when they shed their shells and expose their soft bodies, they are very tasty when fried and eaten whole. Part of her mission is to persuade chefs in Maine and New Hampshire to put them on their menus. As she says of green crabs: If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em.
What’s billed as a Green Crab Summit is going on in Portland June 6 and 7. Scientists, fishermen, chefs and others will discuss ways to create commercial markets for green crabs in hopes of reducing their population. For more information: https://seagrant.unh.edu/GreenCrabSummit