NOAA Live! Alaska Webinar 78 – Hitching a ride: How to spot and stop marine invasive species

– Welcome to NOAA Live Alaska. My name is Lisa Hiruki-Raring and I'm going to be
moderating today's webinar. This series is a collaborative
effort by NOAA Fisheries Alaska Fishery Science
Center where I work. NOAA's Alaska Regional
Collaboration Network, and NOAA's National Weather Service. This webinar series is designed to help you get to know
NOAA's work in Alaska and how we connect and
work with your communities. NOAA, the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration studies the ocean and the
atmosphere, and where the two meet from weather to ocean, to the
animals that live around us. All of our speakers worked
for some part of NOAA or work in partnership with NOAA. We hope this gives you a sneak peek at different career paths that
you might be interested in. Today, we're introducing
you to Jasmine Maurer, who works for NOAA's Kachemak Bay, National Estuarine Research
Reserve in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. Well, we'll be talking about NOAAs role in research and stewardship. We want to recognize that
we are all coming to you from the traditional lands
of native communities who have substantial indigenous knowledge and much to share with us.

We'd also like to acknowledge
that Jasmine is presenting from the land of the
Dena'ina and Sugpiaq people. And we are hosting these webinars from the traditional lens of
the first people of Seattle the Duwamish people past and present. A few guidelines before I
hand you over to Jasmine. You're all muted because we
have a lot of people on the line and we want to make sure that
everyone can hear our speaker. However, there's a box where
you can write questions and we encourage you to
ask them as we go on. And my colleague, Chris Baier and I will be keeping track of
the questions for Jasmine behind the scenes. Which she'll stop every now and again and answer a few questions. We may not get to all of our questions but we'll try to answer as many as we can.

All right. I'll hand it over to Jasmine
to introduce herself. – Okay, thank you, Lisa. Let me get this pulled up. Okay, thank you for that
great introduction, Lisa, as she said my name is Jasmine Maurer and just a little bit about
myself to get started. This is a picture of me in high school and I'm standing in front of
a two person research sub. I took a Marine biology
class in high school and got to go out in the submarine as it was working its way
to do a research project. And as soon as I got under the water that was my first time
ever going underwater, right here in Kachemak Bay in Alaska.

And I immediately fell in
love with the experience and I wanted to do more in the ocean and I wanted to be there more. So when I got to college,
I went to Oregon state and I took every scuba
diving class that I could on the weekends to get all my
certifications that I could, and also went on exchange to Ecuador. This picture of me here there with a chocolate chip sea star snorkeling, between classes and homework, I spent every minute in the water, again getting to know the wildlife, watching animal behavior. I just loved everything
about being in the ocean and being around the
animals and plants there.

So finishing undergrad, I wasn't done yet, I didn't feel like I
had learned enough yet, I wanted to do and be more that
environment and do research. So I went on to grad school, and although my grad school
was at Moss Landing Marine Labs right there in Monterey Bay, California. So shout out to the audience
here that from Santa Cruz, I'd went to school there to classes there but I got to come back to
Alaska in the summertime, go out on groundfish surveys, which is what I was doing here. And I studied the age, growth,
when they reach maturity how many babies they had
of Alaskan skate species.

So this is me measuring the
wingspan of a big skate. You could see it was pretty
big as big as my arms there. And I just really enjoyed
getting to do that research back here in Alaska. After grad school and a
little bit of travel and play, I moved back to Homer where I grew up, and got a job at the Research Reserve where I have done work in
juvenile salmon habitat, looking at what what kind of habitats are juvenile salmon like
here on the Kenai Peninsula, and have now moved into
the harmful species program where I worked with Rosie Mitsui and we monitor for harmful
algal blooms in Kachemak Bay as well as monitoring for
Marine invasive species which is what I will be
speaking about more today.

So a little bit more background
on the Research Reserve. As Lisa mentioned, we are a part of NOAA. So there is a National Estuarine
Research Reserve System. We are one here we are
here in Kachemak Bay of 29 NOAA designated reserves
around the United States and all reserves are a NOAA
plus a local state partner. And ours is the university
of Alaska Anchorage, and that's what makes up the Kachemak Bay National Estuary Reserve,
those two big partnerships. The reserve in Kachemak Bay
is shown here in this map, the yellow boundary marks
all the reserve boundaries that that designation by NOAA. And as you can see, it's quite large.

It takes up the whole
32 miles of Kachemak Bay and some of the watersheds
outside of the Bay as well. Okay, with that background
about myself and the reserve we'll dive into it more. So this is a picture from alchemy. That is a kaleidoscope
image of Marine tunicates. Now these are tropical tunicates but I wanted to include this
image to share with you all just to show you some of the
species that we look for, when we're looking at invasive species. These are native to tropical areas, we don't have them here in Alaska, but you can see there's a
real diversity in their color their shape and their form. These animals are important
part of our ocean ecosystems. It's when they get
brought out of their range they start to cause troubles.

So the reason why we
monitor for invasive species is because we know that early detection is the best way to
prevent Marine invasives from causing irreversible
harm to the environment or to taking, taking over an environment. So by being out there and looking for them we are best able to detect them early and stop them from taking over. So that is the main goal
of our monitoring program. Now, what is an invasive
species before we go any further I've mentioned them a lot so far, and I would love to hear from you all about what you already
know about invasive species or how you think of them. So go ahead and type your
answer in the chat box.

– So for those of you in our audience what Jasmine would like
to know from you guys is what is your definition of
what an invasive species is? And so if you can type
that into your chat box. We have Kevin saying that it's
an any non-native species. We've got Kurt saying
that it's things living where they don't belong that push out the local
critters and plants. Jasper from Juneau is saying
that an invasive species is a plant or an animal that's
not supposed to be there. And Anna Maria is saying
that it's a kind of animal that hurts and harms the environment.

Hunter is saying it's a non-native species that's harmful to the environment. Michelle says, it's not
supposed to be there. There's a lot of people, Texas, Theodore, Elijah are saying that
it's a non-native thing, something an animal from other parts that shouldn't be there. So there's a lot of themes of
that it's an animal or a plant from somewhere else and
that it multiplies too much. So what's your definition
of invasive species Jasmine? – Yeah, you guys really hit
on some of the key points and the way we define an invasive species is that it is a species that
is introduced by people, so that's a key part, and it
causes harm to the ecosystem, the economy or human health. So again, you guys got a hit
on some of those key points, but it's really that
brought to an area by people and causes harm, and it can be a plant or an animal.

Now, the traits of invasive species, there's three broad traits that
all invasive species share. And the first one, just like
the stars on my screen here, and someone mentioned
this is that they grow and reproduce really quickly. So once they get to an area, just like these stars on my screen, they just start multiplying and they can really take over quickly. Another trait is that they're aggressive. So this is a picture of a lionfish which is an invasive
species that causes troubles in our warmer waters
around the United States not here in Alaska, but I include this image
because it can really show you how aggressive some invasive species are both in their physical form. So this lionfish has spines everywhere, who wants to give that animal
a hug, like, no, thank you. It's just defending itself and aggressive and can push its way into places. It has also has quite a large mouth, so it can eat just about any, it will eat anything
that fits in its mouth.

So invasive species are aggressive, both in behavior and in
their defense mechanisms or their different
physical characteristics. And finally invasive
species have few predators or natural diseases in the area that they've newly arrived to. So it would be similar to
this crab arriving to a place where there were no
seagulls that would eat it. So again, few predators or native diseases that keep those populations
of invasive species on check. So the next natural question could be how do invasive species
get introduced to an area? And we refer to these pathways
of introduction as vectors and the vectors are ways that people again bring a species of plant
or an animal to an area. So I'd love to hear from you about what ways you can think of, that people can bring invasive
plants or animals to an area. – [Lisa] So that's a really
good question, Jasmine.

So to our audience, what
ways can you think of that people can bring invasive
plants or animals to an area? Hunter is saying that people
can bring them in their boats. Theodore is saying like
on ships, like rats Ella is saying they bring them as pets, but can't take care of them anymore and release them to the wild. Haley says online shopping,
Michelle says on their clothes. A lot of folks are saying on boats. So Elijah, Julian,
Karen, are saying boats. Karen is saying ship holes or aquariums. Kevin is saying on bottom of shoes. So a lot of people are saying boats or sticking to clothes or as pets. So, and Hunter is saying releasing animals into the environment like Burmese pythons which I think aren't a
problem anymore though. – Yes. – [Lisa] So what are the ways that you see most often Jasmine? – Well, I am really
impressed by the audience.

You all clearly know your marine and invasive species topics here but you hit on the big ones. So I believe someone said
in your shoes, right? That's one way. So marine invasive species can
hitchhike along with people whether it's a seed in your shoe or an animal that climbs in your backpack, and you might not know it's there. So these pathways to
introduction can be intentional or a lot of times they're unintentional. Another way someone mentioned or was pretty close to this
one is the shipping of things especially live seafood and bait. So I am going to focus on
the Marine environment here and the main pathways for Marine invasive species introductions.

So the whole point of shipping
a plant or animal alive is it that arrives alive
at its destination. However, if that, as
animals improperly discarded or the plant, or it escapes, they could establish a
new invasive population in the area where they have escaped to. Another one that several of you mentioned is the improper disposal
or release of pets. So here's a cartoon of someone
dumping their aquarium fish into a lake or stream and
hoping that no one's looking but really animals can survive even being flushed down the toilet, animals can survive that. So it's really important
that we take responsibility when we no longer can
care for or want a pet, that we return it to the pet store, or otherwise properly dispose of it so it doesn't become an invasive species. Another one is marine debris. So animals will, when there's
like a big net like this that might've gotten washed out after a tsunami event for
example, or even just a high tide when folks were paying attention, animals can and plants can grow on these different debris types.

And the currents will
carry them from Japan all the way over to the coast of Alaska. Animals also will take shelter in them even if they're not growing on the debris they like to have that
something to take shelter in and will follow it with the currents from one place to another. And then finally, you
all mentioned this boats. So ship fouling, which is
the picture I'm showing here which means stuff growing on boats, when those boats go from
one place to another, those articles that you
can see or that allergy or whatever else might
be growing on the boat is going with it, and can introduce new
species to a new place.

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The other way that boats
can introduce species is through ballast water. And this is one that's actually attributed to the most introductions
of marine invasive species in the world. So this large ship, when
it goes to leave port might take on water in its ballast and that water can be held in
those tanks until such time it no longer needs it. And if it just dumps
that water back out again like it's happening here, and it didn't do any treatment at all any of the larva or the eggs
or the adults or baby animals or implants that might be in that water can now establish new populations wherever it's being dumped. So those are the main
vectors for invasive species through in the marine
environment to be introduced. I do want to say that
there's a lot of people doing really good work, especially with the ballast water here, to pass new regulations, to
develop new technologies, to install systems in new
boats or retrofit old boats.

So that ballast water is being treated and this no longer continues to contribute in such a big way to Marine
invasive species introductions. Okay, before we dive into
our monitoring program I wanted to take a moment and see if the audience has any questions for me at this time. – [Lisa] Wow, that's a lot of information. We had a comment that there seemed to be a lot of invasive species
on that boat hall. And I was wondering
whether you have an idea of how many invasive species you get in your particular area.

– That's a good question. It depends on if we're talking
about the ocean or on land. Currently in Kachemak Bay,
I'm really happy to say that we don't have any known
marine invasive species, but throughout Alaska, there are a couple that we that we know of
in the Marine environment. And on land, especially near roadways we tend to see more
invasive species of plants and that sort of thing. Do start, could you. – Yeah, great. So that's good to know that you don't have that many invasive species that you're looking at in Kachemak Bay.

Ella was wondering what
kind of invasive species do you deal with plants or animals. And I know that you're going to get into a couple of species later on, but in general do you deal
with plants or animals? – Animals. So our program is focused
in the marine environment and there are two animal species that we know are a big
threat to Kachemak Bay and to the South Central Alaska area. So those are the two that
we monitor for currently. There are a lot of folks that are looking and a lot of research has been done looking at invasive species
pathways up to Alaska, whether it's through the
Arctic or coming up the coast from the South.

And as we're aware of new species, the monitoring and the state awareness will continue to grow with that. – We have a couple of
questions about ballast water. And so I'm going to sort of
combine Anna Maria and Kurt both had questions about ballast water. And so I was wondering how can ships treat their ballast water, to prevent the transfer
of invasive species? – It's a good question. And there are several different
technologies that I know have been, are either being tested or are currently being used. Some of them are going to
be chemical treatments. So to make sure that none
of the plants or animals that are in that balanced
water can survive. Others might be UV light. So these are big systems
that would go on the boat and would tweet all that water that comes in and out of the boat. And then of course need
to make sure that it's, the water is safe to be
dumped back into the ocean. So just to get rid of,
not have any chemicals that they're dumping out,
if that's what they use.

So it's relatively benign things. The other way that that can be done is through more frequent stops
and changing the ballast water. So they might take ballast water on in a certain area and
in a similar ecosystem dump that ballast water out
and take on new ballast water and do, it requires more stopping
and going of the vessels. So there's some transport companies that might not prefer that method and would prefer the treatment method. So those are some of the ways that people are dealing with
the ballast water issue. – [Lisa] That's really neat. And actually, I guess if you're
looking at smaller boats, I know that in freshwater systems, that people encourage
boaters to drain their boats before they go to another water system. So that could also be a simpler
solution for smaller boats perhaps that are getting
taken out of the water. – Absolutely. And that works yes, for both
in the Marine environment and the freshwater environment, the slogan is clean, drain, dry. So clean off anything you
see growing on your boat, drain any water that might be
in your boat and your bilge or those sorts of areas.

And then let it get all the way dry. And they're typically it's three full days for what we're talking
about the marine environment to really ensure that
nothing is going to survive and be transported to the next place where you put your boat in. – [Lisa] That's really interesting. I have one last question before
we go to the next section. Duffy had wanted to know
can migrating whales or elephant seals serve as vectors. – Oh, that is a really good question. And the answer is no, and yes. (laughs) So because the working
definition of invasive species is human introductions, then they would fall outside
of that if they were brought by a migrating whale or seal. Generally speaking, the
species that are migrating back and forth have been doing it. And the animals, the barnacles that grow in a whale's tail, for example have been making that journey with them from the beginning of that
evolution of that relationship.

And so those are not invasive species. However, I love to hypothesize,
so you get me excited here. I could hypothesize a scenario
where an invasive species somehow I don't know
enough about marine mammals to think of what might be something that, was able to attach to say
the color that they had on, or some other thing that
wasn't native to them, at one end of their migration, and then they would take it to the other. and that could be a problem, but I have don't have enough background
about marine mammals to know specifically what it might be but that's an interesting
thing to think about.

– [Lisa] Yeah, maybe it's something that our audience members
could research themselves at some point, so great.
– Yes. – [Lisa] Well, I know you
have a lot more information to share with us, so let's hold our questions
for now and then keep going. – Okay. So the Research Reserves
Monitoring Program, we focus on two species. One is the European green crab.

Here's a bucket full of them here from area in Washington,
where they were captured. And the other is tunicates. And I will dive into more
about what tunicates are. Our invasive tunicate monitoring
program began in 2006. So it's been going on a long time. It's a partnership with the Smithsonian Environmental
Research center. This person is holding up
a line, hung off a dock. And each one of these large
globules is a mogulus species which is you can see, they
get quite large tunicate that is native to Alaska. So we see these when we're out there. So what are tunicates? Well, they're animals. They have generally are a
round, a cylindrical body and then two siphons to take in their food and excrete any waste. They are filter feeders. So they're bringing in
water and filtering food out and then putting the water
out on the other siphon an in-out system. They spend their adult
lives attached in one place. So this is a picture of the
intertidal and Kachemak Bay.

And these groups of globes
here, you see on orange those are all tunicates and
they are going to be there, their whole lives. They can be solitary like
this individual here. So one large orange tunicate, or they can be colonial which
means a lot of individuals living together. They actually reproduce
by cloning themselves. So this is a colony
here, this pinky color, and this orange one is another colony, and they are commonly called sea squirts. And Lisa is going to show
a short video for us. – [Lisa] Yeah, I'm just going
to get us loaded up here. So here we go. We're about to start and here. So Jasmine don't forget to.
– [Jasmine] So these are mogulus species, Oh. – [Lisa] Go ahead. – [Jasmine] Okay, these
are mogulus species. And you can see when these folks
they've pulled up this cage that has lots of
tunicates growing on them. They can grow quite fast. And every time they
touch your squeeze one, the water is squirting all over the place. So that is where they get
their names, sea squirt.

And now that you've seen this perhaps the next time that
you're out tide pulling and you see a tunicate, you can see just how far
their water will squirt. And again, they pull water
in, they filter food out and then they have the out siphon And when you see them at low tide they will squirt that
water out at you as well. So they can grow quite
well, quite quickly. – [Lisa] Great, and I'm just
switching the control back to you, Jasmine. – Okay. So, oops. Lets get back to the slide we were on. Here we go. Okay, thank you, Lisa. So life of the tunicate. Tunicates have a larval stage
that would look like this if you looked at it under a microscope, they spend a couple of
days in the water column, about a week, actually
not a couple of days before they find a place to settle.

And then they undergo a metamorphosis where they get, metamorphose
absorb their tail into their adult form. This is an image of an adult tunicate. And I really like to share this one' because it's got that transparent tunic, or the transparent outer
shell so you can see them. So here's the in-siphon
that comes in here. This is the brachial arches, where they filter out all their food, and then the out-siphon for
waste and extra seawater. This space down here
is where their heart is and their digestive system, and all tunicates are going
to have the same anatomy, you just can't see it if they don't have a transparent tunic. – So these are some examples
of Alaskan tunicates and you can see the diversity in color and shape that we have here. A lot of different tunicates
are native to Alaska. But there is one that
we are concerned about that we know is already in an
area just outside of Sitka.

It's called Didemnum vexillum. This is what it looks like
growing over an oyster net. You can see it's globby and orange and totally covers that space there, it's common name is sea vomit or it's co can be
referred to as sea vomit, which I think you might
all be able to see why. And just to show what
this looks like underwater we have another quick
video to share with you. – [Lisa] Okay, so I'm going
to load up the video here. And for those of you who
might be having trouble seeing the video, sometimes the video screen pops
up behind your main screen, or if you're on an iPad, you need. – So the noise that you all are hearing is someone breathing on
scuba to get this footage. And this is the Didemnum vexillum that's growing outside of
Sitka, so already in Alaska. You can really notice how
it is covering everything. – [Lisa] Okay, and here we go. I'm going to switch it
back to you, Jasmine.

– Thank you. Okay. Okay, so this is another
picture of the Dvex, the invasive tunicate that we know is, there's a population
there in Southeast Alaska, and the main threat with this one, the main threats with this species and with a lot of invasive tunicates is that they do grow
and reproduce so quickly that anything that doesn't
move out of the way, any muscles, any algae, any, even some slow moving invertebrates, it will totally cover and smother. And this is a problem because it lowers the diversity of that area. (coughs) Excuse me. It also will make it
hard for oyster farmers. If it gets on their nets to, for their oysters to get them
food and water that they need or any water movement for industry, it'll plug up tubes and
intake valves and things.

So it really can cause a lot
of problems for infrastructure. All right. And I will take a few more
questions here before we move on. – [Lisa] Okay, Texas was wondering where does the sea vomit live naturally when it's not an invasive species, Where is its natural habitat? – That one comes from the Western Pacific. – [Lisa] Oh, interesting. So it's moved up quite a fair ways if it's coming up to Alaska then? – Yes. – [Lisa] And then Elijah was wondering, how do you get rid of an invasive species once you have it? – Elijah, that is a great question. And it is a real challenge.

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pexels photo 5745017

So especially in the ocean where it's all one big body of water, and you have these species
that have larval stages that could carry it
around on the currents. It can be very challenging. It could be hard, one way that a lot of, in lakes, for example, you can block off those lakes
sometimes and treat them to get rid of an invasive species, but in the ocean that's much harder to do because it's one big system.

So a lot of the removal has
to do with physical removal. So in Sitka, Alaska
Department of Fish and Game, is working with the community
there and partners there to remove the defects from that area. And it's a lot of physical
removal of any structures where it's growing. They're looking at doing
a dosing to get rid of it, a lot of education to let people
don't come into this harbor at all possible, don't spread
it, those sorts of methods. – [Lisa] Kurt was wondering how quickly do the tunicates grow? And I know that you're going to have something that kind of gets
into that a little bit later, but he was wondering as whether it grows as fast as kudzu which is a a plant that grows a few inches a day, or does it grow more slowly? – You know, that is a great question.

I don't know exactly
how fast tunicates grow. There's going to be some
variety depending on the species and the time of year. But because they are
able to clone themselves those colonial tunicates, like the Dvex, the amount of spread is very quickly but I don't have an exact time for you. It's great question. – [Lisa] And then Anna Maria was wondering how many types of
tunicates live in Alaska? – Oh, Anna Maria, there's
so many, there are so many.

So I don't have an exact number, I think tunicates can
be challenging to ID. And we're learning, since we've been doing
the monitoring program here in Kachemak Bay, our staff and folks have been helping
us from the lower 48 that are experts in
tunicates to identify them. I have never actually counted
how many are in our ID guide for some tunicates, it's not
even all of the tunicates for South Central Alaska. – [Lisa] I know that just
looking at the variety of tunicates that you were showing, it's pretty incredible just
to see how many there are just looking at them. So I can imagine that
there would be a lot.

– Yes. – [Lisa] So well maybe we
can go onto the next section and talk a little bit about
how you monitor for them. – Yes. So our monitoring program,
we do in the Homer Harbor and the Seldovia Harbor, and this is my coworkers Rosie and Dana, and they're holding
there, our tunicate guide. You can also see in front of
them, a tote that has water. And we use that tote because
it's much easier to identify the animals and plants when they're actually in some seawater instead of drooping flat in the air. So we go out to the harbor, we go out every four to six
weeks during the summertime when things are growing most
quickly here at Kachemak Bay. We have a setup that includes
a brick and a PVC plate. This PVC plate is about
four inches by four inches. And we use PVC because
we know that tunicates like to settle on it. So if there are any invasive
tunicates coming into the area, we are more likely to detect
them by using the PVC plate. We hang this on a line in the water. And again, we leave it
there four to six weeks, and when we come back to look at it we might see this much growth on it.

So you can really see in Alaska, in the summertime there's
a lot of stuff in the water that starts to grow. We identify everything. We take samples, if we need to. So far we haven't seen any
invasive species in Alaska in sorry, in Kachemak Bay and
we'll continue to monitor. So the other monitoring
program that we do is for European green crab. This is a picture provided to
us by Washington Sea Grant. You can see that this crab is green. However, they can be different colors. So the green is not a real
surefire way to identify them but we can identify them
based on their shape. So they have a very distinctive care piece or back shell shape with five bumps on the outside of the eye or five spines, and three bumps in the middle and then five on the other side.

So that five, three, five. They're also relatively small. The maximum width of that care piece is going to be about four inches, and their hind legs are modified, they're flattened to
help them with swimming versus being rounded, stiff walking legs. But the five, three, five, those five spines on
the outside of the eye is the key for identifying
European green crab. European green crab are
originally from Europe shown here in the blue. The areas in green are the areas
they've already established an invasive species population. You can see that they're
right just to the South of us in BC, Canada.

So that area of the
central Alaska coastline is a threatened area and with habitat that would be suitable for green crab, and they're also very
close to where we know they already are. This is a map zoomed in of
BC and Southeast Alaska. So here in the purple is
Juneau just to help you find your way around this map. The yellow dots are two new places where monitoring programs
started last summer. So we're really excited that there's a monitoring program there for that early detection should
invasive green crab arrive. All the dots along the
British Columbia Coast, the red are areas where they've
already found green crabs.

So here's the farthest
North that we know of. And then the blacker
areas they are monitoring but they've yet to see them. Some European green crab are quite close to Southeast Alaska. This is a species that we monitor for because they in the top
10 most unwanted species in the world for as far as invasive go. One of the threats for
them is habitat destruction and degradation. So they are burrowers. They will get back into
sediments and soft river or estuarine edges. And that causes a lot of erosion, which will affect the
habitat of our baby salmon or adult salmon, as well as
other shoreline creatures.

They also eat a lot, these green crabs although they're small eat a lot every day they will eat many clams or mussels a day. They'll eat other crabs that are up to the same sizes they are, so again, an aggressive species
that eat and eat and eat. They're also omnivores. So they will eat eel grass, which directly affects
those eel grass beds. But also their burrowing
is going to have an effect on the health of our eel grass bed, and eel grass beds we
know are really important for our shorebirds and
our juvenile fishes. They also can survive in
a wide range of habitats. So if you think about
all of South Central, South East Alaska, there's
a lot of habitats there, there's Rocky intertidal, there's estuaries like
this one shown here, and sandy coastlines. And green crabs can tolerate
all those salinities, all those temperatures, all those different types of substrates.

They also reproduce a lot. And we talked about this at the beginning. So this is a female green crab. She's holding her eggs in
her, on her abdomen there. And there's probably there
are over 200,000 eggs in that clutch, and she can reproduce twice
a year with that many eggs. And then finally, European green crabs. Again, we're speaking about them as being an invasive
species we don't want, but they're pretty incredible animals, they're very, very resilient. So they can survive a
long time out of water and they can also survive in all those different
environments we just spoke about. They also have a unique
ability among crabs to use a modified set of gills shown here to absorb nutrients out of the water and essentially filter feed,
in times when food is scarce.

So again, very resilient
have very high survivorship in harsh conditions. Okay, so that is introduction
into green crabs. Does anyone have any questions now? – [Lisa] We have a bunch of questions about green crabs, actually. Let's see. So, Sonya, Oliver and Finn
were saying that they found that there were green
crabs that were found off the West coast of
Newfoundland and Canada. And so they were interested in looking at at the spread of green crab. And then Terri Linquist's
class in Kodiak was wondering, she has a third grade class there.

They were wondering,
are there any green crab or invasive tunicate
species spotted in Kodiak? And I think you had said
that the green crabs are not yet in Alaska. – Correct.
– [Lisa] But is that true? – That's correct. There are not yet green crabs in Alaska, but we are, it is really
great that Metlakatla has begun doing monitoring
as of last summer down in Southeast, 'cause we anticipate that's where they'll
make it to Alaska first. In general, green crab have, they were introduced in
San Francisco in the 80s and they've been making their way North. And as we've seen in years
of El Nino, for example their larva tend to be
able to jump much farther during those warm water regimes
than in other cooler years. – [Lisa] So we had a couple of questions about eating green crabs. Kurt had wanted to know
do green crabs taste good and can people eat them? Carol was wondering whether they could be, one way to handle these invasive
species is to harvest them and eat them that way.

So what's the thought
on green crabs there? – Well, I love your guys' questions. These are such good questions. Yes and no. Are you enjoying that answer yet? So in certain species of invasive, certain invasive species that
has been an effective way to deal with them. The lionfish for example,
is one that in some areas they will harvest and serve as, as food. Green crab are a little
bit trickier in that they can be eaten they're crab,
but they're relatively small with that top care piece only
being four inches in diameter, they don't have a lot of meat on them.

So it's a little bit
trickier to find folks that are willing to take
the time to harvest them and eat them for such
a low amount of meat, relatively speaking. When you can have Dungeness
it'd be tough to imagine someone wanting to eat a green crab – [Lisa] Or even King crabs, which are much, much bigger, right? – Oh, yes, yes. Didn't want everybody's
mouth to water too much before lunchtime. – Yeah, (laughs) so Ella was wondering you had shown that map where
green crabs are native, they're called European green crabs right? So they're native to Europe. But she was also, she
was wondering whether there are green crabs on
the East coast of the US. And so I was wondering
whether you could remind us. – Yes, green crab are definitely a problem on the East coast of the United States, as well as Washington,
Oregon, and California. – [Lisa] Great, and then, and actually Mabel and Ruby from Arizona, we're wondering how did
green crabs get San Diego? – They migrated down that way.

So the introduction on the West coast was, the port was San Francisco. And then over time they migrated
their way down the coast whether it was, so your green
crab have a larval stage, just like all crabs do. Their larval stage is particularly long up to two months. And so that's a long time for them to ride around in the
current to get to new places. Or the adult crabs are mobile and they will slowly make their way into new habitats as well. – [Lisa] Great, and then
Carl and Carol had a question about if green crab are
too small for humans to really get a lot out of
trying to harvest and eat them.

Could they be harvested for feed for a like a farm marine species, or cat food or dog food
or something like that? – Yeah, I am not aware of that being done but it doesn't mean it's not happening. It could totally be a possibility. – And then Theodore was wondering, you had said that green crabs eat a lot. And so he was wondering
how much do they eat? – I have the seen in some
literature up to 40 clams a day, which would be a lot for me to eat. – [Lisa] Yeah, for one
small four-inch crab, that's a lot of clams.

Great, well I think that we
did have a question about ballast water beforehand. One of our viewers let's
say, I think it was, I think that we had a
question about Jillian. So that was actually
Sawyer, Oliver and Finn were wondering how do creatures
get sucked into boats, from our ballast water discussion before? – Yeah, so a lot, including
green crab and tunicates a lot of animals in the ocean have microscopic life stages where they, a swordfish, for example,
the egg is microscopic. And when it first hatches
that sword fish is only it's teeny, teeny tiny. And in the course of a
year, they grow to be they eat so much and they grow so fast, they grow to be those big swordfish that we see people catching
and on their walls. So a lot of species, fish
species, crabs species, octopus squid have
these tiny larval stages that are floating around in the water and moving on the currents, the
plankton and the zooplankton and that way they get
sucked up in the water that these big ships use to help them maintain their balance as they're traveling around the ocean, and offloading and unloading cargo, and they need to keep their
weight evenly distributed.

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– [Lisa] That's very interesting. Yeah, I think that thinking about different life stages of animals, I could see where many
species might get sucked up into that water. Texas also had a question about, I think that he was struck by that picture of the boat haul that you showed with all of the creatures
on it, and was wondering how do you clean the
bottom of those boats? – Yeah, there are well
established protocol for good cleaning methods for boats, so that you can haul your
boat out of the water and scrape it clean or wash it clean, or let it dry as we spoke about earlier for those full three days, so
that nothing survives that. It's important that you
make sure that, that is any of those methods are done in a place where the water, should it rain, or if you are washing
the bottom of your boat don't drain right back into the harbor or right back into the Bay or the Lake, or whatever body of water is near.

So you want to make sure
that any boat cleaning, any of those bottom sticky cleaned are done well away from the water so that you don't just
flush them right back down into the water. – [Lisa] That makes total sense. Okay, I know that you
have a one more section to go through. So maybe we'll hold onto
the rest of our questions and see what else you have to talk about. – Okay, so next, I'm going
to move into how we monitor for European green crab. And our monitoring program
is really community-based. So we do some monitoring ourselves, but we also go into classrooms when there isn't a pandemic going on, and we, we spend a day with
the students in the classroom, we teach them how to identify green crab and our other native crabs species, how to use the gear
that we're going to use, fill out the data sheet, and then we go out with them and actually do a monitoring event. So I'm going to turn
my camera back on here. All right, can you see me, Lisa? – [Lisa] Yep.

– Okay. So this is a crab trap
that we use, excuse me. And it's just a folding trap. Pretty simple. We have these two stakes
where we can stake it down into the sand or the gravel
to help it hold there. We then also, so we get the
critters coming into our trap, use a simple Tupperware container
where we've drilled holes, smells like keurig, that's the
bait that we use, very sticky attracts those animals right in. And we lay those out the beach and I have an image to share, so I'll go back to my slides here. Okay. So this is a group that we
took out a couple of years ago, where you can see they've
got their traps here with the beta them staked into the mud. And we lay six traps, each
time we do a sampling event, and we just lay them out
along the low tide line spaced out so that it covers the whole length of the beach
that we're sampling that day.

We do this at low tide. We wait 24 hours. The tide comes in and
out a couple of times. And then we go back and
we look at all the animals that have been caught. We measure the crabs to
see how big they are. We also identify if they're male or female we identify all the other
species that have been caught and release them right
there at the site alive. So that is the monitoring program, the protocols that we follow. In Kachemak Bay in 2020 we had
four different sampling sites indicated by the different red dots. These are not lines, these are dots. So we were able to disperse
throughout Kachemak Bay and do these because we have our staff as well as our community
monitors, volunteers. And then again, and in normal years, we go out with school groups as well. We really enjoy getting to do this program with our community. We find that there's a lot of benefits. Number one is the partnerships and the relationships that we form. And also just to reiterate by
having more folks participate and know about the potential
for Marine invasive species it increases our chances
of early detection.

And when we have that early detection, it's really our best opportunity to prevent them from causing harm or establishing a population, 'cause we can detect them early
and keep those numbers low, so they don't become a problem. I'm just going to share
this website with you all for some resources, if folks are interested
in taking out a guide to some tunicates of Alaska the next time you go tide
pooling it can be found here, as well as our crab identification guide, that includes a diagram and description of the European green crab, and some of the most common native species that we see in Kachemak Bay. Both of our monitoring programs produce an annual report every year, and if anyone's interested
in beginning to receive those please send me an email.

My email address is right here, and I just want to thank everybody for tuning in and such
great question so far. I imagine you might have some more here as I sign off, or sign up, wrap up the presentation. I'm not going anywhere. – [Lisa] Yeah, Jasmine actually we do have quite a few more questions. And I just also wanted
to let our viewers know that I will be putting the
website for the resources to share on our NOAA Live Alaska website. So you can also check there after, I'll put it up after our webinar here. But we did have some more
green crab questions. And so one of the questions that we had was Haley had wanted to know what are the natural
predators of green crabs? So like both in their native
habitat, like in Europe and also over in this area
where they they've invaded, what are their natural predators? – That's a really great question. So in Europe, they tend
to have some diseases that help keep the
population in check there that we don't have in the United States, and we don't want to bring here because they would also affect
our native crabs species.

So diseases are really
important population control for a lot of invasive species, but not a very good one
to bring into an area 'cause it can affect
the native's populations that already there being
affected by the invasive species. Also, we have partners in Canada that are seeing that the red rock crab seems to eat green crab in the areas. It might even keep it out of some of the Rocky intertidal areas there. Because they're not in Alaska yet, we're not as sure or,
or we just don't know what species might eat them.

They've also seen some evidence in Canada of the mammals that
forage in the inner title, bears is one that I've
heard people mention but some of those other animals
might also take advantage and eat the green crab
when they're there so. – [Lisa] Great. And then Duffy had wanted
to know how can harm from the green crab be
prevented or minimized? – It's a good question, and really by keeping the populations low should they be detected, so really early detection
so that we can do a lot of trapping would be
what would happen in that case. If we detected green crab, we'd want to do a lot of trapping and prevent those
populations from exploding. 'Cause once you get those
really big populations is when you start to see
a lot of that damage, they start to, they're consuming more, they're eating our native crabs species, they're having an impact
on our salmon habitat.

So we would really want
to keep those numbers low with early detection. – [Lisa] Great. And actually that, that was a question that Mabel and Ruby had,
because they live in Arizona and they were saying what can people do if they don't live in those areas? To, I don't know, do something
about invasive species or, I mean, one of the
things that I could think of is to look into invasive
species in their own area. What would you say, Jasmine? – Yeah, Lisa you're exactly right. Invasive species is a
problem in every environment around the world. It's something that folks
are concerned about, I have seen impacts of. So in Arizona there would probably be some species of concern
in some plants that are, might grow along the roadways, or people might have
planted them not knowing. In Alaska, one of the invasive species that's a problem in our
lakes here is Elodea.

So there are, and that's
a problem in other places around the United States. Zebra mussels are also a
problem in freshwater lakes and streams in the United States. So that might be one you might see, but there's definitely invasive species that cause problems in
all areas of the world. – [Lisa] I know that in Arizona, there are a lot of native fish
species in the lakes there that they are quite concerned
about invasive species. So Mabel and Ruby, if
you wanted to know about what invasive species might
be of concerning your area you could do some research on the internet and this could be the same
for everybody online here, you could look into what
invasive species are of concern in the areas where you live, and see what kind of
steps people can take to. And I think the other thing is that people can always talk to other people who might not know about invasive species, and that's another way of helping to – Yeah, and being aware of it.

So you take the time, and a lot
of parks and trail heads now they have boot brushes, for example. So when you're done with your hike, you can wash your boot
off or scrub your boot off of any mud that might have got
anything stuck in the tread so that you don't carry
something to the next spot. Reading the signage at trail
heads or lakes, boat docks that might inform you about best practices for keeping your boat and your gear clean, so that you're not transporting species from one place to another.

Those are all things that we can do. And being familiar with what
the invasive species are, so that you can report them to your local, in Alaska it would be fishing game, there's an invasive species,
number 1888 invasive, I'll have to get it to you, Lisa, where people can report
invasive species if they see one or and they really encourage,
even if you don't know, it's just great to have it reported, and if it ends up not being a concern, that's better than not having it reported. 'Cause again, early detection is the key. – [Lisa] And we do have a
fellow invasive species expert, Linda Shaw, who is on the line.

– Oh hey.
– [Lisa] Who has said that in Arizona bull frogs, turtles,
quagga mussels are invasive and also red-eared slider turtles. So Mabel and Ruby, if you are interested, you could follow up and look at what the problems are with those species. One of the other questions that folks had, I think Hunter had was how
fast do green crabs reproduce, and how does that add to the problem? – Yeah, green crab females can
two clutches of eggs a year and there are about
200,000 eggs per clutch, so quite a few. – Great, and finally, I think
this will be our last question as we're wrapping up is that, we had a couple of questions about what your favorite part of your job is. And so what would you say the
favorite part of your job is? – Can I have two.

I really enjoy getting to
do these outreach events and hearing the questions that come up because it helps to
inform me about my job, and what things folks don't know or interested in knowing
that can help us all in this line of work. And I love being out on the
water and doing that work still just like when I was a kid and when I was in high school and college. Getting to go out in the
environment, doing the trapping and seeing our native
crabs species doing well, identifying the different things. I just love being out there and seeing what's going on underwater. – [Lisa] Great. Well, thank you so much
for sharing your work and your passions with us, Jasmine, we learned a lot about invasive
species today, I think, and thank you to all of our
audience members for signing in and hope you guys can come back next week for our next NOOA Alive Alaska webinar.

Next week we're having a
tour of the Kodiak lab, so that will be kind of cool. And thank you again, Jasmine
for speaking with us. – Yes, thanks for having me and thanks for all the
great questions, everyone. – [Lisa] All right, we'll
shut things down here. Thanks a lot. Bye-bye..

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