European shore crab

European shore crab

Carcinus maenas

Common name:

European shore crab

Scientific name:

Carcinus maenas

Alternative common names:


Description:

A large crab measuring 10cm across the carapace width. The front margin of the carapace has three ‘teeth’ between the eyes and five prominent ‘teeth’ along either margin. It is mottled green in colour on its upperside with a semicircular pattern of white dots across the carapace. The underside is yellow or orange. This crab is competitive and has largely eliminated mussels and other shellfish in the area.

Additional Information


Where does this species come from?

European coastal regions.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA 2020 Category 1b.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Hout Bay a town near Cape Town.

How does it spread?

The spread is by natural dispersal in oceanic currents, boats and ships or accidental transportation within oyster farming equipment and infrastructure.

Why is it a problem?

This crab is competitive and has largely eliminated mussels and other shellfish in the area. This crab poses a serious threat to the shellfish industry, especially if it reaches the Saldanha Bay-Langebaan Lagoon system where important fisheries exist.

What does it look like?

Description: A large crab measuring 10cm across the carapace width. The front margin of the carapace has three ‘teeth’ between the eyes and five prominent ‘teeth’ along either margin. It is mottled green in colour on its upperside with a semicircular pattern of white dots across the carapace. The underside is yellow or orange.

Habitat: Marine environment in the vicinity of harbours and rocky bays.

Breeding: Mating takes place after females moult in winter and females extrude their eggs during spring. Successful embryonic development takes place when water temperature is between 11 and 25◦C.

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