Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on January 5, 2009
The crabs are gearing up for a takeover. Not of humans, thankfully, but of other species in the Antarctic Peninsula. Which could lead to serious consequences.
While crabs and other swift predators were once stymied by the Arctic Ocean’s cold temperatures, millions of years of climate change have heated the waters, giving them an open door to make their way back.
As scientists explain it, crabs aren’t able to handle the high levels of magnesium that build up in their bloodstream while traversing cold water. Too much magnesium in the system causes them to pass out and pass away. On the other hand, those species that aren’t affected by the excessive amounts have been able to travel freely. But as the temperatures warm, crab populations have been able to move into more shallow areas, threatening the lives of such magnesium-immune dwellers as ribbon worms and sea stars.
Other species could be threatened by this change as well — some even disastrously — as the crabs move into what scientists are calling “one of the nature’s last pristine areas”. As Rich Aronson of the Dauphin Island Sea Laboratory put it: “Antarctic marine communities look like primeval communities from hundreds of millions of years ago because modern predators such as crabs and fish are missing… [a reintroduction of crabs] would be a tragic loss for biodiversity in one of the last truly wild places on earth.”
I wonder if floating buoys with the Kwell logo painted on them would scare the crabs away…