Researchers to study falling land crab populations

| 07/08/2015 | 53 Comments
Cayman News Service

Berried female white land crab (Photo courtesy DoE)

(CNS): The Department of Environment has begun a local study on Grand Cayman’s white and black land crabs. There may be a wealth of knowledge among local crabbers about this local delicacy but there is very little scientific data about what appears to be declining population. Causes behind the suspected fall could be the growth in traffic, habitat destruction, over-exploitation and the crabs’ isolation from resources such as food, shelter, and potential mates. But up until now there has been no solid research to support the theories.

In an article in the summer edition of the DoE newsletter, Flicker, experts said that the goals of this study are to collect basic biological data, estimate population sizes and determine peak breeding seasons. The researchers will also be looking at the threats to the crabs and the current harvest rates.

David Bass and Kinsey Tedford from the University of Central Oklahoma’s biology department will be working with staff from the DoE’s Terrestrial Resources Unit to conduct the research to get the necessary information for a conservation plan, as required under the National Conservation Law, including potential sustainable harvesting levels and what is needed to protect the crabs, which remain an important food source. The study will also determine the population density in areas around the island and their migratory routes to the sea, which may need future protection.

See all editions of Flicker on the DoE website (latest not yet uploaded)

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (53)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need a study to see why we need so many studies.

  2. Mango Tree says:

    I’m sure the nice gentlemen selling them by the roadside have a trade and business license, right?

  3. Anonymous says:

    It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out. The decline is due to the fact of a number of things such as the increase of traffic and roads, the increase of development (both inland and seaside) and zero management. Land crab has been a delicacy in the Cayman Islands for many many years. The only problem is that they should have been managed from then. Instead of waiting until the specie is on the brink of being wiped out like the Nassau grouper,conch and lobster. The land crab is going to need a season and a bag limit and DOE is going to have to start enforcing this. Just my two cents.

    • Anonymous says:

      12.18 you left out the people who we welcomed, catching the spawned crabs and therefore depleting the crab population. Everything on this island is wide open to people who never think of the continuation or provision of goods or services later on in life. They are used to destroying everything from whence they came. Check on the small fishes that they are killing out and everyone will understand what work permits are doing to this country.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Crabs eh? Perhaps they don’t like dogs any more?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why are people worried about vermin? The tree huggers are going too far.

  6. CRAB MAN says:

    SIMPLE SOLUTION: Buy a piece of land and breed them, and government or people can make a profit from selling crab meat. Besides the crabs in the wild need purging before you can eat them. If they are breed for food they can be properly taken off and some released in the wild. This is also conservation. Peace 🙂

    • The Sufi says:

      Sounds like a great idea. why don’t you get busy at it. With your plan I might eat them again. Can’t really stomach them anymore. They will eat anything they come across. yucks.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Another waste of fund$$ on a “study”?? Loss of habitat is the main reason for the decline. The latest area I’ve observed is the new development near Snug Harbour. Last year, this was “crab city” Oh well, there goes my secret spot. Of course, just like the decimation of small fish and crustaceans, some of our “guest workers” are known to catch, collect and eat everything without regard to size or species.

    So there it is – decline of indigieous species yet the “imported” green iguana is thriving!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Better spend the money on removing the annoying roosters.

  9. Sharkey says:

    I think that if Government read all these comments they can find all the reasons for the depletion and how to bring them back.

  10. Sharkey says:

    How pettic that Government need to spend a handful of money on studying the land crab depletion . Where have these politicians been living all these years to not why the crabs are being depleted. Here is the reasons, no protection, too many people out of job’s got to get food from somewhere., no place for the crabs to live and reproduce, all natural habitats are being developed, no protection laws, and make who is responsible for enforcement do their job and you will see that all natural food source are back to normal. End of report, give that money to some other good cause.

  11. SKEPTICAL says:

    Probably quite simply development. I remember in the mid-seventies driving into GT in the morning on South Sound Road past what was then Green Horses, now Sand Key, and watching thousands of the blue backed red legged crabs crossing the road from the bush, heading for the sea. It was if the whole surface of the road was moving – like water.
    If you block the routes they instinctively follow to spawn in the sea and, add thousands of cars on roads they have to cross – they ain’t going to survive. No different for the big grey land crabs. They seem to have a natural default GPS system which does not allow them to skirt around any concrete obstacle built across their traditional route, when they have to head to the sea. Another part of Cayman’s ecosystem/biodiversity which eventually will simply disappear.

  12. Ron says:

    Over development without any substantial planning or conservation in mind. When you have the chairman for the planning board having the largest hardware store on island, how can the crabs stand a chance?

  13. Anonymous says:

    It’s simple – when you concrete over everything the crabs have no habitat. Anyone remember the old Seaview? The crabs loved it and were everywhere but when construction started on the concrete structure that replaced it they were wiped out. All you have to do is repeat that right across the island and there’s your answer.

  14. Anonymous says:

    There are certain nationalities who catch them even when they are spawning. Which obviously impacts the production level. Then there are those who are just plain greedy, and must catch 100 every night of the week. And most of all, the road kill rate is extremely high.

    • Anonymous says:

      Everyday Caymankind racism.

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re an idiot

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s a fact, not racism. Leave the crabs with their eggs so that they can reproduce. Caymanians respected that. They didn’t take spawning crabs or baby fish. Now it’s a whole different mentality of destruction. No responsibility or common sense in regard to preservation for future benefit. Short-sighted is an understatement.

      • Anonymous says:

        4.25 Racisim has nothing to do with facts. Everything that crawls or moves is eaten.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, by Caymanians as well as others, 10:33. Look at where we are with turtles (the ones in the wild) which used to be so plentiful until we Caymanians depleted them and some poachers are still trying to do it every year in West Bay when they’re nesting.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s more than just predation, their habitats have been destroyed by development. The predation you might be able to limit but the habitats are gone for ever.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correct, 1:27, and one of these “nationalities” is Caymanians and please don’t try to deny it. I’m one and I know. But the main reason is there is the change in the environment. Where I live used to be considered “in the bush” and there thousands of crabs every year (30 years ago) but then the bulldozers moved in and the houses (pretty low cost) went up and there was nowhere for the crabs. That’s “development”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, 5:25, the same Caymanians who pulled the female groupers out of the sea full of eggs several years ago on Cayman Brac and were selling them, slit open and cleaned on the shore with their eggs (roe) just going to waste. When some of us suggested this was short sighted harvesting of fish stock, we were cursed badly because one of us was a foreigner and told it was none of our business..

      • Anonymous says:

        Caymanians were taught the reasons for not taking the spawning crabs. We would never eat those crabs! No doubt its different these days – a lack of common sense and an abundance of greed.

        • Anonymous says:

          So, 10:41, why is it so many older Caymanians keep showing up in Court for taking conch and lobster out of season or more than the daily catch since you say they are so well educated in not taking what they shouldn’t?

          • Anonymous says:

            There were plenty conchs and lobsters when I was growing up but I still remember hearing about not taking spawning crabs. I personally didn’t take crabs period but I can remember getting conchs. All I had to do was reach down as there were so many.

          • Anonymous says:

            Didn’t you read the last sentence?

  15. Anonymous says:

    The other night one of the land crabs only just managed to get out the path of my car at the last moment. Luckily I managed to swerve and still get it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why did you do it? Did it make you feel big? I genuinely don’t understand.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your sentence should end “I genuinely don’t understand comedy”. God I bet you are dull.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.” Mark Twain

        • Anonymous says:

          Although that statement is not true. Killer whales have been seen many times toying with a dying seal and there are many other examples.

          • Anonymous says:

            If you research orca hunting methods you will find out why they do that – they are not “toying”. The same with the cat & mouse “game”, and many other species which seem to play with their prey.There are a whole lot of complex hunting skills involved, certainly not for the gratuitous pleasure of torturing prey.
            A car-driving yob swerving purposely to crush an animal is only sadistic and sick.

        • Anonymous says:

          And he is supposedly the most intelligent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hopefully one day someone will return you the favor.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The plain and simple answer is: they are declining because of the rise in traffic and amount of new roads and development. Hope I just saved the government $50k

    • Anonymous says:

      That and there is no catch limit on them. At the start of rainy/breeding season it is an island tradition to annihilate them and consume as many as possible.

      • Anonymous says:

        It was also an island tradition not to take the females that were ‘spawning’. Now it seems that some people who don’t care about this tradition are determined to make sure that the crabs become extinct; senseless bunch.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let me help you and perhaps we’ll get paid forty of the fifty thousand: We have FAR too many underpaid expatriates..

  17. Anonymous says:

    Cars and people. Simple as that really. If you want to eradicate a species put it on the menu and make it cross a road.

    Grand Cayman’s land crabs are doomed and nothing can save them.

    If DOE wants to achieve something real then put in place measures to stop people from Grand and the Brac going over and pillaging crabs and everything else on Little Cayman.

  18. Anonymous says:

    On a good my truck can account for a substantial amount of them on the drive home. Crack crack crack.

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