Citizen scientist training planned for European green crab


People who want to help the fight against the invasive European green crab in Drayton Harbor and other nearby waters have the opportunity to participate in a citizen scientist program to track them.

Washington Sea Grant and Washington State University’s Whatcom County Extension are returning their molt search program, where the public can learn to identify the invasive crabs and then conduct 20-minute surveys. Citizen scientists then upload their findings on an app that scientists will use to track where the green crabs are being spotted and where they are populating.

“It’s important because the European green crab is a very bad invasive species and is capable of reaching high densities,” said Cheryl Lovato Niles, water resource educator at WSU Whatcom County Extension. “This is a serious threat but it’s also a fun thing to do.”

People can search for the molts year-round, but they are most common late spring through October. Participation is free, and especially welcomed from private beach owners, Niles said.

WSU Extension will hold its Whatcom County molt search training from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11 at the Fairhaven Library, 1117 12th Street, and on a nearby shoreline that will be determined.

Additional trainings will be held throughout the state in May and June. The next nearby trainings will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 15 at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mount Vernon and a virtual training will be held Tuesday, June 18, with the time to be determined.

European green crabs, considered one of the world’s worst invasive species, were detected in Drayton Harbor in August 2019 and have since been monitored in harbor and Dakota and California creeks. The crabs have devastating impacts on native ecosystems including Dungeness crab, oyster, clam and seagrass populations.

For more information about the training on May 11 or the program, contact Cheryl Lovato Niles at 360/778-5812 or For more information about the trainings, visit


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