June European Green Crab Molt Search Training

On June 13th, Great Peninsula Conservancy hosted a Molt Search Training at Misery Point Preserve in conjunction with Washington Sea Grant’s Crab Team and Washington State University Extension. Molt Search is a collaborative program launched in 2023 to expand community engagement in systematic, early detection of European green crab. Invasive European green crabs threaten shellfish populations, eelgrass habitat, and native crab species, such as the Dungeness crab. The program works closely with organizations across the region who host Molt Search events and trainings in their communities.  

Starting the day out at the Seabeck Community Center, Jeff Adams from Washington Sea Grant instructed volunteers on the history and status of European green crabs in Washington State, crab molt identification, and molt search protocols. After a lively discussion about the importance of early detection of invasive species, we made our way down the road to GPC’s Misery Point Preserve to conduct Molt Searches. The next few hours were spent adventuring along the shoreline, searching for crab molts, oyster shells, and birds. Attendees found shore crabs, red rock crabs, a black-clawed crab, and a hair helmet crab.  Fortunately, there were no European green crabs! 

To conduct a molt search of your own, you’ll need a container to hold the molts, twenty minutes, a measuring tool, a crab identification guide, a way to access the MyCoast app (Apple and Android), and a legally accessible beach! Molts are most likely to be found at the wrack lines (high tide lines) of the beach. The first step is to walk along the wrack line for twenty person-minutes (twenty minutes of searching for one-person or ten minutes of searching for two-people) and place as many molts as you can find into your container. Following collection, sort, identify, and measure the molts in accordance with the prompts found in the MyCoast app. Finally, you can submit your survey through the app. This semi-systematic survey protocol allows community members to participate in important coastline monitoring throughout the Salish Sea. 

Thanks to volunteers for making this years Molt Search event a success! We look forward to participating in more molt searches in the future. Stay tuned for more information on GPC’s upcoming engagement opportunities on our events page.