Fisherman Finds Invader On Beach
A Norfolk fisherman made an alarming discovery on the beach at Heacham.

Angler Roger Tipple was digging for lugworms when he came across a heavily egg-laden Chinese mitten crab, which is now under guard at Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary.

A European invader from the Yellow Sea, Chinese mitten crabs have been a major concern for UK environmentalists since numbers began to multiply in the River Thames in the early 1990s.
Chinese mitten crab
Having since colonised the Humber, Medway, Tyne and Wharfe, they were discovered in the Ouse in 2005.

″They are a problem because they burrow into river banks causing landslides and erosion,″ said SEA LIFE marine expert Ben Stone.

Ben had literally just arrived back at the neighbouring Great Yarmouth SEA LIFE Centre from a two-day course studying marine aliens.

″The Chinese mitten crab - so called because they have furry front claws - was one of the first things we learned about,″ he said.

Mr Tipple's discovery on Heacham beach raises further concerns about the mitten crab's ability to spread.

″They live in freshwater but migrate downstream to estuaries in the spring to breed,″ said Ben. ″Clearly they are moving along the coast too, and the larvae from their eggs could end up in many more British rivers.″

Staff at the Hunstanton Sanctuary have notified the Environment Agency of their find and are keeping the crab in an isolated display tank to avoid any hatched larvae entering the main water circulation system and potentially back out to sea.
Issued by the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Nigel Croasdale on 01485 533576
Date: 1st May 2009