Juveniles and adults hitch-hiking in fishing gear, recreational vessels, and fisheries and aquaculture products are believed to be important vectors of local dispersal of invasive European green crab (Carcinus maenus L.). Assessing the distance green crab might spread by hitch hiking requires an estimate of survival time under typical transport conditions. An exposure experiment (stocking density 62 crabs/m2) was conducted in fish crates containing: just crabs (no water, no cover), dry rope, damp eelgrass (Zostera marina L.), seawater (1.5 cm deep), rope seawater, or eelgrass seawater. At mean air temperature of 24°C, almost no crabs died during the first 48 h, 50% of crabs stocked alone or with dry rope survived 68 h (none survived five days), 50% of crabs in eelgrass or eelgrass seawater survived 90–100 h, and > 80% of crabs in sea water or rope seawater survived the full five days. The second experiment (just crabs, sea water, and rope seawater) used three stocking levels (84, 168, and 251 crabs/m2) and ran for seven days. Stocking density did not have a significant effect on survival. At mean air temperature of 29°C, 50% of crabs fully exposed to air survived 60 h (almost none survived seven days), whereas about 60% of crabs survived to seven days when seawater or seawater rope were present. The survival of green crab for several days out of water under severe summer conditions would allow them to be carried on boats to any point in Atlantic Canada, or almost anywhere on the eastern seaboard on trailered boats. This could result in further northward dispersal and the introduction of “northern” genetic material into previously colonized southern portions of the range, potentially increasing over wintering survival.
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