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Mitten Crab Monitoring Mitten Crab

Chinese mitten crabs were discovered in the Chesapeake Bay during the summer of 2006. The crab, with hair-like growths on its pincers, is a native of China and the Korean peninsula. There are established populations of this invasive species in the San Francisco Bay and individuals have been found in the Delaware Bay and Hudson River. The Chinese mitten crab is listed under the Federal Lacey Act as injurious wildlife which makes it illegal to import, export, or conduct interstate commerce without a permit. If a mitten crab population becomes established in the Chesapeake Bay, it could alter the ecosystem and possibly compete directly with other economically important crab species.

A joint effort between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been established to investigate the status of Chinese mitten crab.

Chinese mitten crabs can be identified by the hairs on their white tipped claws, their olive green color, and their 8 sharp-tipped walking legs. Mitten crabs have no flat swimming legs in the back. If you catch a mitten crab, don't throw it back alive. The crab should be photographed, then frozen or kept on ice. Record when and where the animal was found and contact the Mitten Crab Hotline at 443-482-2222 or SERCMittenCrab@si.edu

Last updated: January 30, 2013
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