Suss­ing out preda­tors for pesky green crabs

The Compass - - NEWS -

Hands up and sing out those among us who know who lives in a pineap­ple un­der the sea.

Sponge­Bob SquarePants! SpongBog SquarePants!

True, although it isn’t Sponge­Bob I choose to speak about. It’s his em­ployer, Eu­gene H. Krabs, pro­pri­etor of the Krusty Krab, an un­der­sea fast food eatery.

[An aside, al­ready: The ‘H’ is ac­tu­ally for Harold. Truly. I looked it up. How cool is that?]

Eu­gene Harold (Ar­mor Abs) Krabs is a red sea crab — Ge­car­coidea natalis, p’raps. Af­ter 10 min­utes of ex­ten­sive re­search I’m un­cer­tain whether or not Eu­gene is, in fact, a Christ­mas Is­land red crab — but he could be.

Eu­gene is an ag­gres­sive cap­i­tal­ist, I s’pose you’d say. His whole pur­pose for ex­ist­ing is to ac­cu­mu­late loonies. Well, not loonies specif­i­cally, be­cause Eu­gene lives at the bot­tom of the Pa­cific Ocean and is more likely to deal in for­eign cur­rency.

But it isn’t Eu­gene H. Krabs I’m mainly con­cerned about. Yet his ag­gres­sive­ness should be kept in mind.

Eu­gene’s for­eign cousins are my sub­ject.

Green crabs — Carci­nus mae­nas — are the lit­tle bug­gers who

My Im­per­fect

Slant have be­come the bane of fish­er­men in the North At­lantic. Their bur­geon­ing num­bers are tor­ment­ing fisher folks be­cause these “cock­roaches of the sea” will eat any­thing in sight and thus are com­peti­tors for the yum­mies fish­er­men seek.

If you were a fish­er­man, they’d cause de­spair, eh b’ys?

“Harry, my some­times crabby honey,” says Dear­est Duck, who I thought was stay­ing overnight with her sis­ters, “do you think you’re cir­cling the bush one time too many?”

“My Duck,” say I, “you know how in­va­sive those frig­gin’ lit­tle scavengers are ac­cord­ing to the fisher b’ys. Sure, they’re con­sid­ered to be one of the world’s worst alien in­va­sive species.” “Tut, tut,” says Dear­est Duck. Green crabs are com­mon lit­toral…

“Harold!” Dear­est Duck must have seen that bit about Eu­gene H.

Okay. I’ll speak of blue crabs —Callinectes sapidus.

Ecol­o­gists, or bi­ol­o­gists, or who­ever at Parks Canada, are get­ting ex­cited about blue crabs be­cause these fel­lows ap­par­ently are can­ni­bal­iz­ing green crabs. The hope is that a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion — even in our pro­vin­cial wa­ters — will thin out the hordes of the vile green boogers.

If this de­sired re­sult comes to pass, fisher folks will be tick­led pink, eh b’ys?

“What’s this, my Duck?” say I, be­cause Dear­est Duck has re­turned bear­ing a plate and steam­ing mug.

“Thought I’d get you a lunch, my in­dus­tri­ous love,” says she, lodg­ing the plate and mug be­side my com­puter. “Here’s a nice cup of herbal tea and a crab­meat sand­wich.” Dear­est Duck be­ing funny? She hobby-hawed with laugh­ter and smote me across the shoul­ders, for frig sake.

“Now knock off draw-latch­ing and get to the point.”

The point is … well, the point is that it’s nei­ther green crabs nor blue crabs that are truly on my mind.

The crea­tures that inspired my mus­ings are co­conut crabs — Bir­gus la­tro.

Did you ever see those ter­res­trial big brutes?

Some of them are the size of small dogs.

There’s a pic­ture of a pair of them stand­ing their ground against a cou­ple of hounds. The dogs look un­easy.

Lis­ten to this: co­conut crabs are the “largest land-liv­ing arthro­pods in the world.” In the world! Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion I gar­nered at Mr. Google’s house, co­conut crabs “can grow to three feet from leg-to-leg” and weigh as much as nine pounds. I’m not sure how heavy that is in ki­los but it must be handy about the weight of sev­eral bags of sugar.

And get this: co­conut crabs have bran­chioste­gal lungs. How about that? Co­conut crabs have those fancy lungs in­stead of gills be­cause co­conut crabs are — as stated above — land-dwelling crit­ters and can sur­vive only a short time in wa­ter.

Another thing: co­conut crabs have a long life­span, up to sixty years in some cases. Sixty years! Old enough for a pen­sion, eh b’ys? Here’s what I’m think­ing. Fi­nally, Dear­est Duck would say if she was back to fetch the plate and mug.

If blue crabs are un­able to de­feat green crabs — who, by the way, can live out of wa­ter for days and days — there might be a way for Eco-De­fend­ers to en­list a night­mare (truly) of co­conut crabs to stomp the be­je­sus out of the trou­ble­some lit­tle shag­gers.

Thank you for read­ing.

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