Recent and Consecutive Records of the Atlantic Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896): Rapid Westward Expansion and Confirmed Establishment along the Southern Coast of Portugal

Abstract

The present study reports six new and consecutive records of the Atlantic blue crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896) in the southern coast of Portugal. Specimens were caught during less than two months (22nd November 2018 – 18th January 2019) as bycatch of trammel nets operated by small-scale fishing boats in scattered locations along the Algarve coast and in the Ria Formosa lagoon. Four adult males (221–236 mm carapace width) and two adult females (191–207 mm carapace width) were caught at relatively shallow depths (1–6 m), on muddy and sandy bottoms in the Ria Formosa lagoon and in the Algarve coast. Morphometric parameters of the specimens are compiled and the respective occurrences are mapped for biogeographic purposes. These first three occurrences in the Algarve coast and the second, third and fourth records in the Ria Formosa lagoon, further supported by additional anecdotal evidences and recent sales at the wholesale market, reveal a rapid westward expansion and confirm the establishment of C. sapidus along the southern coast of Portugal. Possible sources of introduction and causes for the distributional expansion are evaluated. The potential impacts of this invasive species on local ecosystems and fishing/harvesting resources are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

The authors greatly acknowledge the fishermen that caught and kindly offered the specimens to the IPMA – Centro de Olhão, namely Vítor Silvestre (specimen RF-1), José Reis (specimens AC-1 and AC-3), José António Lopes (specimen AC-2), Carlos Correia (specimen RF-2), José Quintino (specimen RF-4) and a fisherman that waived anonymity (specimen RF-3). Sincere thanks are also due to the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute (IH) for kindly providing data on the seawater temperature registered in 2018 at the coastal oceanographic buoy off Faro. The species identification and sampling and the preparation of the manuscript were performed within the framework of the research project “Contributo para a Gestão Sustentada da Pequena Pesca e da Apanha (PESCAPANHA)”, funded by the Fisheries Operational Programme (MAR 2020) and co-financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF 2014–2020). The authors also acknowledge the Editor-in-Chief (Prof. Manuel J. Reigosa) and two anonymous reviewers for valuable suggestions that improved the revised version of the manuscript.

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Vasconcelos, P., Carvalho, A.N., Piló, D. et al. Recent and Consecutive Records of the Atlantic Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896): Rapid Westward Expansion and Confirmed Establishment along the Southern Coast of Portugal. Thalassas 35, 485–494 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41208-019-00163-1

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Keywords

  • Atlantic blue crab
  • Callinectes sapidus
  • Invasive alien species (IAS)
  • Distributional expansion
  • Algarve coast
  • Ria Formosa lagoon