The MBA education team held a crabbing competition at Sutton Harbour, in collaboration with @theboxplymouth, to involve the public with the citizen science project ‘Crab Watch’. Crab Watch has been developed as part of the European funded Sea Change initiative to collect large amounts of valuable species distribution data, and increase Ocean Literacy in Europe. The event brought out the scientist in everyone, with university students, parents, children and scientists working together to contribute to a dataset spanning Europe.
For 75 minutes families and friends competed to catch the largest crab. The teams recorded 50 crabs during the competition, with the winning crab an impressive 74mm across! Everyone was also on the lookout for non-native species and, any parasites attached to the crabs caught. Luckily only healthy specimens of the Common Shore crab (Carcinus maenas) were caught, with no parasites in sight. One team even caught a gravid (egg bearing) female, which was returned gently to its home after measuring.
While the competition was underway, one of the smaller participants announced “I’m going to catch a lobster!”, although lobsters weren’t really our quarry, it was heart-warming to see such enthusiasm for marine life at a young age. Spreading this enthusiasm is vital, to give people the knowledge and incentive to make choices which positively affect the environment around them. Citizen science projects can be used as tools to encourage people to learn about their local wildlife, and become inspired to make changes in their lifestyle that benefit the environment.
A film crew working for the Box Plymouth have been filming Crab Watch events to be featured in a citizen science booth for the Natural History section of the museum, due to be open in 2020. A section dedicated to citizen science will encourage visitors to partake in projects like Crab Watch, further increasing public contribution towards science.
For more information on how to get involved with Crab Watch, click the link provided below and for the latest updates, check out @Crabwatch on Twitter!