Ouse Wash tunnels leave nature reserve open
to alien crab attack

Hunstanton SEA LIFE Centre experts warn a Chinese Mitten Crab found on the Ouse Wash signifies a hidden threat for the nature reserve.

The SEA LIFE Sanctuary, which specialises in caring for endangered and unusual species of sea creatures, received the crab when Bob Richards of Sandy Lane, Denver, brought it home to show his grandchildren.
alien crab attack
Mr. Richards, a retired farmer of 79, said ″We own some grazing land out near the Wash and at 10am I went to check all was well when something moved strangely in the mud. I´d never seen a crab like it before, so I popped it in a potato sack I had with me to take home to show my grandchildren.″

On seeing the unusual looking crab, which has furry looking bristles covering its claws earning it the name the ´Chinese Mitten Crab´, Bob´s daughter Sandra called the local SEA LIFE Sanctuary to pick it up.

Nigel Croasdale, Manager of the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary, warns ″We think the crab must have scuttled up one of the underground tunnel ways used to let water from the River Ouse wash over the cattle´s grazing land every summer.

″We here at the SEA LIFE Sanctuary are extremely concerned at what this could mean for the Wash nature reserve. Chinese Mitten crabs are an alien species to our British waters, and multiply extremely quickly, causing chaos and landslides when they burrow in their hundreds into riverbanks.″
alien crab attack Warnings about the invading Chinese Mitten Crabs were issued last year when several hundred were found marching up the Thames Estuary.

The crabs can survive walking several miles across dry land in search of fresh rivers to populate, and have even been found in domestic swimming pools.
Should the crabs multiply in the Wash nature reserve, it bodes ill for birds such as Terns who use the Wash as a breeding ground and are supported by the intricate balance of the protected riverside eco system.

Mr. Croasdale went on to say ″This could be an isolated incident, but we would ask those visiting the area to be vigilant and get in touch if they see any more of the Chinese Mitten Crabs out on the Wash. If the tunnels are providing the crabs a route to invade, we will need to examine our options as a community.″

Those wanting to see the invading Chinese Mitten Crab can do so by visiting the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary on the Southern Promenade. Those needing further information can call the centre on 01485 533576.
Issued by the Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Nigel Croasdale on 01485 533576
Date: 11th February 2010