The Atlantic Blue Crab, native to the waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico where it is considered a gastronomic delicacy, has been found in the Guadiana River.
The species, known in the science world as Callinectes sapidus, was discovered by local fishermen “over 7,000 kilometres away from their original habitat” and identified by researchers from the University of the Algarve’s sea centre CCMAR in June.
The species has also been found in parts of the Sado estuary, which suggests it is “expanding along our coast after possibly being brought here as larvae in the ballast water tank of a ship that travelled across the Atlantic”.
It is a discovery that researchers believe is both a “threat and an opportunity”.
While it is a foreign ‘invader’ that could endanger native species, the Blue Crab also has “great commercial value”.
The New York Times has described it as the “tasty beautiful swimmer” and a favourite among seafood lovers.
Thus, CCMAR suggests fishing the crab to create a new regional delicacy, control its population, protect the native species and also “alleviate the pressure on traditional fishing resources, such as the sardine”.
The researchers say that chefs of regional restaurants are already working on Blue Crab recipes, adding that CCMAR is ready to establish “technologic and scientific partnerships with any sector of the fishing industry”.
CCMAR adds that the appearance of invasive species in the Guadiana has been growing in recent years, with over a dozen new species registered, including fish, clams, jellyfish, shrimp and now the Blue Crab.