Skip to comments.Stalin's last army: Hordes of giant crabs on their way to invade Europe -
Posted on 10/20/2007 6:48:19 PM PDT by UnklGene
Stalin's Last Army: Hordes of gigantic crabs on their way to invade Europe -
The Telegraph - UK ^ | February 28, 2004 | Julius Strauss
Posted on 02/25/2007 5:02:02 PM PST by UnklGene
Stalin's last army: hordes of gigantic crabs on their way to invade Europe -
By Julius Strauss in Kirkenes, Northern Norway
Millions of giant Pacific crabs, whose ancestors were brought to Europe by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s, are marching south along Norway's coast, devouring everything in their path.
The monster crabs, which can weigh up to 25lb and have a claw-span of more than three feet, are proving so resilient that scientists fear they could end up as far south as Gibraltar.
Energised by a mysterious population explosion a decade ago, whole armies of the crustaceans - known as the Kamchatka or Red King Crabs - have already advanced about 400 miles along the roof of Europe, overwhelming the ports of northern Norway.
They now number more than 10 million and have reached the Lofoten Islands off north-west Scandinavia, leaving in their wake what one expert described as "an underwater desert".
In a graphic display of the extent of the crab's submarine domination, some photographs of the ocean floor in Kirkenes in northern Norway show a writhing mass of the ugly, spiny animals.
Northern clams and other shellfish, once so numerous that divers could scoop up handfuls, have been all but eliminated.
Lars Petter Oie, a Norwegian diver who lives nearby, has seen the fjord outside his front door taken over by the crabs.
Plunging through a hole in the ice, another diver surfaced within two minutes with a huge specimen. A snap of its claw is enough to remove a man's finger.
Mr Oie said: "I have been to conferences on the crab and one thing the experts agree on is that they have rarely come across a species that is so adaptable.
"It can survive on almost anything: kelp, dead fish, seaweed and fish eggs. It even eats crushed shells to get the calcium it needs for its shell."
The relentless advance of the crabs has led to calls from some Norwegian marine experts for a government-subsidised "blitz" to try to halt their relentless march south.
Andreas Tveteraas, an analyst in Oslo with the international World Wildlife Fund, said that urgent steps needed to be taken.
"This animal has no natural predators and it's an alien species in the Barents Sea. That's why its numbers are exploding.
"Some scientists say it will stay in the north because it likes the temperature but others think it can go as far south as Gibraltar."
For years the Norwegian government has ignored the underwater advance, undecided whether to treat the crabs as a resource or a pest.
The animal's legs are considered a delicacy and fetch top dollar in Japan and America. Even in Oslo, consumers pay around 200 Norwegian kronor (£15) a pound.
Served with bread, butter, lemon and mayonnaise, the taste and texture of the crab meat is comparable with that of the finest lobster.
One leg is enough to provide a grown man with a filling meal.
At present, some Norwegian fishermen have been granted seasonal licences to catch the Kamchatka crab but stiff regulations on the size of the boat used and other criteria mean they are few in number.
Aasmund Bjordal, of the Department of Marine Resources in the western Norwegian town of Bergen, said: "We're between two policies. One is to get rid of the crabs. The other is to manage it as a fishing resource.
"In the meantime, it's already become an important source of income for some fishermen in the north. The problem is that it may be destroying the fishing stock."
Predicting the crab's long-term effect on the marine ecology is difficult. The Barents Sea provides some of the world's richest fishing grounds and a collapse in stock would be a major disaster.
There is some evidence that the crabs, which often live at great depths, have been eating the eggs of the caplin, a small fish that is a main source of food for cod.
In its native Pacific it faces much sterner competition but has nevertheless edged out other bottom-feeders to reach northern Japan and Vancouver Island.
Transporting the monster crabs to the Barents Sea was originally part of a Stalinist era scheme to provide food for the populations in the north-western Soviet Union.
In the 1990s, for reasons nobody quite understands, the population exploded.
In recognition of the growing threat to the local ecology, Norwegian authorities finally lifted on Jan 1 some of the restrictions on crabbing along part of the shoreline.
As for the fishermen themselves, they are as deeply divided as the government.
If you need more butter, we will send.
Just large undersea insects ... but Yummy!
Chow down. Problem solved.
“In the meantime, it’s already become an important source of income for some fishermen in the north. The problem is that it may be destroying the fishing stock.”
Dare I say the obvious??? Harvest it. Drive it to extinction.
At first, I thought this was a new Communist STD.
Air freight them here—there’s a market for giant crab cakes!
Hmmmm...that was just a few years after the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. Coincidence? [Cue for eerie SF movie music]
Solution? Eat the damned things, with gusto (and clarified butter)!
This is not anything a few Cajuns from South Louisiana could not solve. Boiled crab is the best, and look at the size of them!!!!!!!!
Ship them to Japan!
Heck, I imagine after reading this there is going to be a swarm of Japanese seafood buyers on their way to Norway. Those things are expensive here! Restaurants pay big money for good specimens.
Way above my budget.
Only the government would be unable to resolve this issue.
Looks like it’s time to invest in Norwegian crap shippers!
I’ll take a few pounds myself, thank you.
It appears the government is the source of the problem, how unusual.
I don’t understand why they just don’t catch & eat them or sell them. I wouldn’t mind some of that crab right now.
This article is self contradictory. One the one hand the crabs are multiplying by the millions and nothing can stop them. On the other hand the crab fishermen may be destroying the fishing stock suggesting the crab need to be protected.
Catch 'em and let's eat!!
>>>The animal’s legs are considered a delicacy and fetch top dollar in Japan and America. Even in Oslo, consumers pay around 200 Norwegian kronor (£15) a pound<<<
>>>some photographs of the ocean floor in Kirkenes in northern Norway show a writhing mass of the ugly, spiny animals. <<<
Okay, there is some serious disconnect here.
Crab People from Russia! We’re doomed!
And there that disconnect is. At least in part. Seasonal licenses and boat regulations... As you say, typical.
Perhaps the boats are emitting too much greenhouse gases??? *rolls eyes*
Crush them up by the ton and make diesel fuel.
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