The Antarctic is being invaded by a species that threatens to destroy it’s eco-system, giant red crabs are invading the area, wiping out local wildlife and threatening a 14 million year-old system in the process.
News of the crabs quick appearance is unsettling for researchers who three years ago warned that king crabs would invade the area within 100 years.
Using a remotely operated submersible more than one million Neolithodes yaldwyni have already been discovered in Palmer Deep, some 3,000 to 4,500 feet below sea level.
Craig Smith of the University of Hawaii at Manoa tells the Washington Post:
“This is likely to alter sediment processes, such as the rate at which organic matter is buried, which will affect the diversity of animal communities living in the sediments.”
The worry is that the crabs prod, probe, gash and puncture delicate sediments with the tips of their long legs, destroying necessary parts of the ocean floor that help other sea life flourish.
The crabs with their large numbers also consume various meals including sea lilies, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars and any other meals they can find.
Scientists say the crabs have moved from the far north as waters in the Antarctic have warmed from 34.2 degrees in 1992 to 34.6 degrees at the end of 2010.
At this time the migratory patterns of the crab are being closely followed, perhaps it’s time to call in the guys from Deadliest Catch.