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Daily Archives: 16. January 2014 − News & Stories


Arc­tic inva­dors: the Snow Crab in the Bar­ents Sea

The intro­duc­tion of new spe­ci­es to eco­sys­tems, be it by natu­ral migra­ti­on, with human influ­ence or hel­ped by cli­ma­te chan­ge, is hard­ly ever good news for any regi­on affec­ted. Too often, local­ly estab­lis­hed spe­ci­es suf­fer severely from their new neigh­bours. This is espe­cial­ly the case for rela­tively iso­la­ted eco­sys­tems, for examp­le in polar are­as or on remo­te islands.

The­re is a new spe­ci­es now estab­lis­hed in the Bar­ents Sea: the Snow Crab (Chio­noe­ce­tes opi­lio), which can be up to 90 cm lar­ge (inclu­ding the legs) and 2 kg hea­vy. She was wide-spread also in the past, with an occur­rence in the Bering Strait and fur­ther north as well as at the coasts of New­found­land. It is likely that it has migra­ted along the coast of Sibe­ria west­wards into the Bar­ents Sea. Initi­al­ly, it was found east of the Bar­ents Sea, near Nova­ya Zem­lya, but it has been repor­ted east of Spits­ber­gen sin­ce.

Expe­ri­ence in a simi­lar case, with King Crabs at the coast of North Nor­way, has shown that the mari­ne bot­tom fau­na is stron­gly deple­ted by their new hungry neigh­bours. It is likely that the Snow Crab has a simi­lar­ly healt­hy appe­ti­te as its rela­ti­ve, the King Crab. Addi­tio­nal­ly, it may just be a ques­ti­on of time until the King Crab its­elf migra­tes fur­ther north to inha­bit the nort­hern Bar­ents Sea and Sval­bard waters.

The Snow Crab has been found east of Spits­ber­gen sin­ce the mid 1990s and is now about to beco­me a pre­cious tar­get spe­ci­es for the fishing indus­try.

Immi­grants to the Bar­ents Sea: Snow Crab (foto © Ter­je Engø).

Snow Crab, Barents Sea

Source: Kyst­ma­gasi­net

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