The Great Green Crab Invasion and the Battle for Coastal Maine
As rising ocean temperatures wreak havoc on local sea life, generations of clammers suddenly find their livelihoods at risk—and a rift widens about what can be done.
Illustrations by Lila Cherneff
It was the summer of 2013 and mud flats of Brunswick, Maine, were drowning in green crabs. They seemed to be springing from the earth, hundreds and hundreds of them, until the local clammers couldn’t flip a piece of mud to dig for clams without finding several green crabs scuttling beneath. They were packed so thick beneath the banks that the mud itself appeared to be moving.
“I’d leave a sack of clams to cool in the water,” says clammer Chris Green. “Within minutes I’d find it covered with green crabs.”
He set a small trap with bait for green crabs, and saw it fill before his eyes: fifty pounds of green crabs in just a few hours. They were everywhere, they were hungry, and their food of choice was baby clams. For generations, the communal mud flats of Brunswick teemed with clams. Now, there was nothing but crabs.
“There was no way to keep up,” says Green.
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