E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Carcinus maenas (Linnaeus, 1758)
European Green Crab; Joe Rocker; Shore Crab
Family: Portunidae

Photo of species

© Royal BC Museum  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #1758)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Carcinus maenas in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.


The European Green Crab is an introduced species of crab in North America and in British Columbia that is native to the coast of Europe and North Africa (Norway and the British Isles south to Mauritania) but is now found globally ( (Perry 2011). It was first reported on the Pacific Coast of North America in 1989 (Estero Americano estuary, California), and is now found northwards to Lemmens Inlet near Tofino, British Columbia (Perry 2011). It is found in a variety of "marine and estuarine habitats, including habitats with mud, sand, or rock substrates, submerged aquatic vegetation, and emergent marsh", with its presence correlating with the occurrence of invasive marine plant species Spartina alterniflora in Washington (Perry 2011).

This species ranges in size from 6 to 10 cm in carapace width (Perry 2011). A description of this species is provided by Perry (2011, taken from Rathbun 1930): "The carapace is finely granular, about as long as broad with 5 acuminate antero-lateral teeth. Antero-lateral teeth tipped with yellow. Frontal area between orbits with three rounded teeth. Carapace color variable, usually mottled, dark brown to dark green, granules for the most part yellow. Female ground color orange in place of green with whitish granules. Claws similar with small black spots arranged longitudinally on palm. Fingers and adjacent portion of palm light blue with black stripes in grooves. Walking legs green, speckled with black. Second and third pair of walking legs longest and about 1and 2/3 times the length of the carapace; fourth pair of legs shorter than the first. Last pair of legs somewhat flattened and with setae."

Read the Global Invasive Species Database page on this species.

Read more about this species here.

Read a journal paper about this species: Asymmetric dispersal allows an upstream region to control population structure throughout a species’ range.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Harriet Perry. 2011. Carcinus maenas. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL. Available online.

Pringle, James M, April M. H. Blakeslee, James E. Byers, and Joe Roman. Asymmetric dispersal allows an upstream region to control population structure throughout a species’ range. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) PNAS Early Edition. Available online.

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-05-25 8:33:11 PM]
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