Scientific Name:Eriocheir sinensis
Common Name:Chinese Mitten Crab (also: big sluice crab, Shanghai hairy crab)
Native Range:Russia and China
Established Range:Europe and North America
Established in Rhode Island?No
Date and Location of Introduction:E. sinensis was first introduced to the US in San Fransisco Bay.
Method of Introduction:It is likely that E. sinensis was purposely (albeit illegally) introduced to San Fransisco Bay for human consumption. These crabs have since been introduced to new locations via ballast water.
Habitat:E. sinensis can be found in freshwater habitats as a juvenile, and in brackish and marine waters as an adult, where they breed. These crabs will burrow extensively in levees and banks, and can be found walking on land during their migratory period. Approximately 90% of E. sinensis' life is spent in freshwater.
Diet:E. sinensis is a highly opportunistic omnivore that has been known to feed on algae, detritus, fish eggs, and a wide variety of invertebrates.
Average Life Span:E. sinensis will live just 2 years in its native environment, but can survive 3 to 5 years in the United States.
Breeding:E. sinensis mates during late fall and winter in estuarine waters and can produce between 250,000 and 1 million eggs that hatch in brackish and marine waters.
Concerns:E. sinensis causes numerous problems when introduced to a new location. Populations can be costly to the local economy as E. sinensis can be found consuming fishing bait, clogging fishing gear, and weakening stream banks and levees to the point of collapse. E. sinensis has been known to cause damage to the environment. It outcompetes native species of crayfish for food and space, and can cause a decline in the populations of native species that it consumes In addition to causing ecological damage, E. sinensis can also cause harm to human health. It is an intermediate host for Paragonimus westermani, the oriental lung fluke, which can be transmitted to humans when improperly prepared or undercooked crabs are consumed.
Control:There are various control methods for E. sinensis. These methods include trapping, trawling, erecting physical barriers, and capture through bounty systems. For more information on control methods for the Chinese Mitten Crab, please visit the NEANS Panel Control Page.
Works Cited:Benson, A. J. and P. L. Fuller. 2010. Eriocheir sinensis. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=182
Chinese Mitten Crab Working Group. 2003. National Management Plan For the Genus Eriocheir (Mitten Crabs). Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, http://www.anstaskforce.gov/Species%20plans/national%20mgmt%20plan%20for%20mitten%20crab.pdf
Crosier, D. and D.P. Molloy. undated. Chinese Mitten Crab - Eriocheir sinensis. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, http://el.erdc.usace.army.mil/ansrp/eriocheir_sinensis.pdf
Veilleux, E., and Y. de Lafontaine. 2007. Biological Synopsis of the Chinese Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis). Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, BC. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/330849.pdf