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Spring 2024 ~ Newsletter

 

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Active Projects

 

Larval Crab Monitoring


The 2024 larval crab monitoring season is underway at 23 sites in Washington (coordinated through Puget Sound Restoration Fund) and 28 sites in British Columbia (coordinated through Hakai Institute, https://sentinels.hakai.org), marking PCRG’s sixth year of light trap sampling! We kicked off the spring with our annual Pre-season Workshop, during which site leads came together to work on light trap repairs and construction.


Members of PCRG’s larval crab monitoring network at the 2024 Pre-season Workshop in Port Townsend.


Thanks to generous funding from the North Pacific Coast Marine Resources Committee, we have expanded our monitoring efforts on Washington’s outer coast in collaboration with the Makah Tribe. This year, Makah is deploying a standardized light trap in Neah Bay (NBY), while also piloting the use of a submerged light trap in the Wa’atch River (WAA) to investigate the presence of Dungeness crab larvae in a riverine environment.


Map of 2024 light trap monitoring sites in WA, coordinated through Puget Sound Restoration Fund.


Farther south, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) deployed two light traps along the coast in Grays Harbor (Westport) and Willapa Bay (Tokeland – in collaboration with the Shoalwater Bay Tribe), which will be monitored continuously throughout the 2024 season. Additionally, within the inland waters of Puget Sound, WDFW has initiated a new light trap site in Mukilteo, expanding our reach and re-establishing larval crab monitoring in Snohomish County – an area that hasn’t had an active light trap site since 2019!


(Left) Pulling the light trap out of the water at Sequim Bay (SQR, managed by Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe). (Center) Light trap team at Manchester Research Station (MCR, managed by Puget Sound Restoration Fund). (Right) Light trap catch at the new site in Mukilteo (MBT, managed by WDFW).


On the outer coast, the first Dungeness megalopae of the season were captured at Tokeland (TOK) on March 24, 2024. Among the inland sites, the first detection in 2024 occurred on April 10 at Cornet Bay (COR) on their very first day of sampling, which is the earliest arrival this location has seen to date over six years of monitoring. Point Wilson (PTW) followed soon after, capturing their first Dungeness megalopae on April 17, 2024. This marks the earliest arrival observed at PTW since monitoring began in 2020.


(Top) First Dungeness megalopa of the season captured at Cornet Bay (COR) on April 10, 2024 (photo by Claire Cook). (Bottom) First Dungeness megalopa of the season captured at Langley Marina (LGM) on June 3, 2024 (photo by Rick Baker).


European Green Crab Collaborations


This year, six PCRG light trap sites have partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to detect the presence of invasive European green crab (EGC) larvae in light trap samples. These sites were selected based on their proximity to locations with either high, moderate, or low levels of adult EGC abundance. Led by Carl Ostberg (USGS), this study will use genetic analysis to detect and quantify EGC larvae in biomass samples taken from PCRG light traps, while also testing whether EGC larvae exhibit positive phototaxis (i.e., whether they are attracted to light) by deploying a second un-lit trap at select sites.


European green crab (Carcinus maenas) zoea.


We are also in conversation with the Washington Sea Grant (WSG) Molt Search team, who launched the volunteer-based program to detect the presence of EGC molts on Puget Sound beaches in 2023. We will soon begin promoting this initiative on our website as a way for interested parties to get involved, as Molt Search volunteers will now be processing and documenting any Dungeness crab molts that they find! Learn more at wsg.washington.edu/moltsearch.


Thank You and Goodbye!


Larval crab technical team member Allison Brownlee (DNR Aquatic Reserves) is stepping down from her role as she is moving to New Zealand with her family. Having also served on the Coordinating Committee, we are so grateful to Allison for all of her invaluable contributions to PCRG, and wish her the best!


PCRG members checking the light trap at Zittel’s Marina (ZIT) during a field trip on May 29, 2024.


Publications


Over the past year, a subset of the larval crab monitoring working group has been working on a manuscript documenting the formation of the collaborative research group and the first 5 years of larval crab observations. This manuscript is now in review at a journal and we look forward to sharing it if it is accepted for publication!


 

Community Engagement

 

Tons of great education and outreach opportunities occur across our network, and we’d love to showcase them here! Send us a note or photos of an event you were involved in and we will feature them in our next newsletter. In the meantime, here are some examples of events that the PCRG coordinators have participated in over the past few months:


  • Washington State University Beach Naturalist Training – Presenter 

  • Port Townsend School District Science Night – Table

  • University of Washington Aquatic Sciences Open House – Table


PSRF table at the UW Aquatic Sciences Open House on May 18, 2024 (bottom photo by Niamh Owen-McLaughlin).


 

In the News

 

Help search for invasive crab during the Salish Sea-wide Molt Blitz

Seattle Times | Vonnai Phair | June 17, 2024 | Link


Recreational crabbing to open July 1 in many Puget Sound marine areas

WDFW | June 12, 2024 | Link


PNW coast suffers from low oxygen, study finds. It’s becoming the norm

Seattle Times | Amanda Zhou | June 10, 2024 | Link


A new program could extend the Bay Area’s Dungeness crab season into summer

Eater San Francisco | Dianne de Guzman | May 23, 2024 | Link


Pacific Seafood escapes antitrust class action by crabbers

Bloomberg Law | Katie Arcieri & Peter Hayes | May 22, 2024 | Link | Summary


Researchers refine ocean oxygen sensors so they can enlist Oregon’s crab fleet to track changing conditions

Yachats News | Michelle Klampe | March 4, 2024 | Link


 

Upcoming Events

 

PCRG Light Trap Field Trip

Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Cornet Bay, WA

Join us for a light trap sampling demonstration and group picnic at one of PCRG’s ‘highest catch’ sites! Please reach out to pnwcrab@gmail.com to RSVP.


WSG Molt Search Volunteer Trainings

Multiple dates | Virtual or in person


Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

September 6-8, 2024 | Port Townsend, WA

Featuring light trap sampling demonstrations and a talk by PCRG members Liz Tobin and Katelyn Bosley about Dungeness crab co-management. Tickets are free for children 12 and under! Learn more and reserve tickets at: https://woodenboat.org


 

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