Attack of the Hairy Crabs

There is a war raging in the waters around Southern New Jersey between humans and a peculiar hairy crustacean from the Far East.

The Chinese mitten crab calls Asia home, but has recently laid down claims along the East Coast -- scaring the daylights out of scientists. They're concerned the crab, which gets its namesake from thick hair on its claws, will destroy the eco-system.

And that's not all -- the hard shelled crawlers like to dig. "That could cause erosion problems and they've also been known to end up clogging things like intake lines for water treatment plants," Linda Barry from the N.J. Bureau of Marine Fisheries told NBC Philadelphia's Ted Greenberg Wednesday.

No one really knows how the crabs made it across the ocean, but scientists think they may have hitched a ride on the hull or inside a ballast tank of a ship coming from Asia or Europe. They were first spotted on the East Coast in the Chesapeake Bay in 2005, according to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. The critters have since made their way up the coast living in both fresh and saltwater. So, officials are asking fishermen and the public to do their part and take out the hairy beasts.

"We need to know where they're showing up," said Barry. The state is asking those who catch the crabs not to throw them back into the water alive. Officials want the specimens frozen and shipped off to scientists, so they can learn more about their habits and develop a plan of attack.

So the next time you come across one of these invaders, don't hesitate to act. By the way, the crabs are supposed to be pretty tasty if cooked correctly -- just sayin'.

Contact Us