Humans have at least five super powers that few people know
about, according to Mind Warehouse, a video producer with nearly 2
million subscribers on YouTube.
The one so-called “superpower” that intrigued me the most was
the ability to distinguish warm water from cold water by sound
alone. The super-powers video, found first on this page, challenges
viewers to close their eyes and listen as someone pours two glasses
of water — one hot and one cold.
According to the video segment, which begins at 2:34, between 80
and 90 percent of people who listen to the video can tell whether
it is hot or cold water being poured into the glasses. It has
something to do with bubbles, according to the video.
The other super powers mentioned in the video are super vision,
the power of healing, a double identity based on DNA, and a force
field surrounding every body. You can listen to the description of
all these super powers, but to me the only surprising power is the
one about the temperature of water.
Mind Warehouse specializes in videos about odd and unexpected
things — including a video called “Five gadgets that will give you
real super powers.” They include a wrist-worn device that shoots
fireballs, an exoskeleton that allows super-human strength and a
vacuum device that lets people climb up walls. For details, watch
the second video player on this page.
If you aren’t familiar with Mind Warehouse, you can check out
more than 100 videos on the Mind
Warehouse website on YouTube. Here are a few videos that caught
An invasion of the European green crab, which started last
summer in northern Puget Sound, appears to be continuing this
spring with 16 green crabs caught in traps at one location on
Dungeness Spit near Sequim.
The new findings are not entirely unexpected, given that
invasive green crabs have established a viable population in Sooke
Inlet at the southern end of Vancouver Island in Canada. From
there, young crab larvae can move with the currents until they
settle and grow into adult crabs. Last summer and fall, green crabs
were found on San Juan Island and in Padilla Bay.
The big concern now is that a growing population of invasive
crabs could spread quickly to other parts of Puget Sound, causing
damage to commercial shellfish beds and disrupting the Puget Sound
“It knocks the wind out of your sails for sure,” said Emily
Grason when I asked how she felt about the latest discovery. “You
feel kind of powerless, and you want to get out there and start
Emily, a biologist with Washington Sea Grant, coordinates a
group of trained volunteers known as the
Crab Team. These folks place crab traps in dozens of locations
where habitat is suitable for green crab survival. When invasive
crabs are found, the volunteers put out many more traps in hopes of
reducing the population before it grows out of control.
The hope is that invasions can be found early so that the
extensive trapping makes it more difficult for the limited number
of crabs to locate suitable mates and continue to expand the
population. Each female can lay up to a million eggs at a time, and
they are not limited to just one or two broods each year.
Officials with Washington Sea Grant are not only dealing with
foreboding feelings about the green crab invasion but also concerns
that the Crab Team may be shut down for lack of funding. At the
federal level, President Trump has proposed eliminating the entire
Sea Grant program nationwide, halting research and various types of
assistance for marine projects across the country.
“We don’t like to think about a world where we have to stop this
program in midstream,” said Kate Litle, assistant director of
programs at Washington Sea Grant, “but that’s what will happen if
we don’t get funding.”
At the same time, the state’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program
may also have little or no money to battle the green crabs. Program
officials requested increased funding from this year’s Legislature
to support the Crab Team as well as address invasive zebra and
quagga mussels. The budget proposed by the state Senate contains
the full funding — including a portion of utility tax revenues that
currently go into the state’s general fund. The House budget for
the program includes a new fee on nonresident watercraft, but the
amount of revenue is relatively small.
“If we lose the Sea Grant early detection program, we are going
to be in a world of hurt,” said Allen Pleus, coordinator of the
Aquatic Invasive Species Program at the Washington Department of
Fish and Wildlife. Allen said it would be hard to get along without
the trained Crab Team volunteers, who provide the first line of
defense for all of Puget Sound.
Emily said she has about 150 volunteers putting out crab traps
in every part of Puget Sound, and the number may grow. After last
year’s discovery of green crabs in northern Puget Sound, officials
from tribes have stepped up to help along with staff from state and
Trapping begins in April and continues into September if the
funding holds up. So far this year, traps placed in Padilla Bay —
where four crabs were caught last year — have come up empty, Emily
said. That’s a good sign, she said, “but we definitely have a
different story at Dungeness Spit.” To review last year’s findings,
Water Ways, Oct. 1, 2016.
Unlike Padilla Bay, where the four crabs were few and far
between, the 17 crabs caught at Dungeness Spit were all in the same
location. Of the first four crabs caught on April 13, two were
caught in the same trap on Graveyard Spit, a small spit that juts
out from the main Dungeness Spit.
More traps were placed in that general area — up to 52 traps at
one time. Three more crabs were caught on April 18, then five more
on April 19, one on April 20, and then three more yesterday, along
with a discarded shell.
“If we can trap them down to make it harder for the males and
females to find each other, that is the best we can do,” Allen told
The trapping at Dungeness Spit is being done with staff and
volunteers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees
the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.
Anyone can look for green crabs and help control their spread
while visiting salt marshes and shallow pocket estuaries. People
are asked to leave all crabs in place and
follow the instructions to email a photograph of a suspect crab
to the Crab Team. For
identifying information, visit the Crab Team website.
Officials in Washington state’s Shellfish Program have
identified a clear pathway to meet a state goal of restoring 10,800
net acres of shellfish beds to a harvestable condition by 2020.
The 10,800-acre target, established by the Puget Sound
Partnership, was considered overly ambitious by many people when
the goal was approved in 2011. Many still believe that the
shellfish restoration effort will go down in flames, along with
other goals, such as increasing chinook salmon and killer whale
populations by 2020.
In reporting on the Shellfish Implementation Strategy, a
document still under development, I’ve learned that the goal is
within reach if enough of the ongoing recovery efforts around Puget
Sound continue to make progress. Please check out my latest stories
the shellfish back” and “Closing
in on the magic number in Samish Bay,” both published in the
Encyclopedia of Puget Sound.
A European green crab invasion may be taking place in Puget
Sound, and Washington Sea Grant intends to enhance its Crab Team
this summer with more volunteers looking in more places than ever
Training is about to get underway, and anyone with an interest
in furthering science while being exposed to the wonders of nature
may participate. It’s not always good weather, but I’ve been
inspired by the camaraderie I’ve witnessed among dedicated
The work involves going out to one or more selected sites each
month from April into September with a team of two to four other
volunteers. It is helpful to have folks who can carry the crab
traps, plastic bins and other equipment. For details, check out the
Washington Sea Grant website.
Invasive saltwater snails, including dreaded oyster drills, seem
to be far more leery of predators than native snails under certain
conditions, according to a new study by Emily Grason, whose
research earned her a doctoral degree from the University of
Why non-native snails in Puget Sound would run and hide while
native species stand their ground remains an open question, but the
difference in behavior might provide an opportunity to better
control the invasive species.
Of course, snails don’t actually run, but I was surprised to
learn that they can move quite rapidly to find hiding places when
they believe they are under attack.
Like many marine animals, snails use chemical clues to figure
out what is happening in their environment. For her experiments,
Emily created a flow-through system with two plastic shoeboxes.
Chemical clues were provided in the upstream bin, while the
reaction of the snails was observed in the downstream bin.
The most dramatic difference between native and non-native
snails seemed to be when ground-up snails were deposited in the
upstream bin, simulating a chemical release caused by a crab or
other predator breaking open snail shells and consuming the tender
Padilla Bay, an extensive inlet east of Anacortes in North Puget
Sound, could become known as an early stronghold of the invasive
European Green crab, a species dreaded for the economic damage it
has brought to other regions of the country.
After one young green crab was found in Padilla Bay on Sept. 19
Ways, Sept. 24), three more crabs were found during an
extensive trapping effort this past week. All four crabs were
captured at different locations in the bay. These four live crabs
followed the finding of a single adult green crab in the San Juan
Islands — the first-ever finding of green crabs anywhere in Puget
Ways, Sept. 15).
With these new findings in Padilla Bay, the goal of containing
the crabs to one area has become a greater challenge. Emily Grason,
who coordinates a volunteer crab-surveillance program for
Washington Sea Grant, discusses the difficulty of putting out
enough traps to cover the entire bay. Read her report on the
fist day of trapping:
“Similar to our trip to San Juan Island, we are conducting
extensive trapping in an effort to learn more about whether there
are more green crabs in Padilla Bay. One difference, however, is
scale. Padilla Bay is massive, and it’s hard to know exactly where
to start. On San Juan Island, the muddy habitats where we thought
crabs would do well are well-defined, and relatively limited.
Padilla Bay, on the other hand, is one giant muddy habitat — well,
not all of it, but certainly a huge portion. We could trap for
weeks and still not cover all of the suitable habitat!”
In all, 192 traps were set up at 31 sites, covering about 20
miles of shoreline. The crab team was fortunate to work with the
expert staff at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research
Reserve, a group of folks who know the area well and had worked
with shoreline owners to get approval for access.
Three of the four green crabs caught in Padilla Bay were young,
probably washed into the bay during last winter’s warm currents,
Emily said in her wrap-up
report of the effort.
“All of the detections of European green crabs occurred on the
east portion of the bay,” she wrote. “Though the sites varied
somewhat in the type of habitat, all of the crabs were found
relatively high on the shore, in high salt marsh pools, or within a
few meters of the shore.
“Padilla Bay has about 20 miles of shoreline, and, at last count
in 2004, there were 143 acres of salt marsh habitat in the bay,”
she continued.”These numbers suggest that there are a lot of places
European green crabs could live in Padilla Bay, and protecting the
bay from this global invader will undoubtedly require a cooperative
Yesterday, the response team held a conference call to discuss
what to do next. Team members agreed that no more intensive
trapping would take place this year, Sean McDonald of the
University of Washington told me in an email.
Winter is a tough time to catch crabs. Low tides shift from
daytime hours to nighttime hours, making trapping more difficult.
Meanwhile, crabs tend to lose their appetite during winter months,
so they are less likely to go into the traps to get food, experts
Researchers, shellfish growers and beach walkers are being asked
to stay alert for the green crabs, not only in Padilla Bay but also
in nearby Samish and Fidalgo bays.
The Legislature will need to provide funding to continue the
citizen science volunteer monitoring program, which provided an
early warning that green crabs had invaded Puget Sound. Whether the
crabs will survive and in what numbers is something that demands
more study and perhaps a major eradication effort.
Meanwhile, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like
to expand its overall Aquatic Invasive Species Program with
additional efforts to prevent invaders from coming into Puget
Sound. For information, check out my story on invasive species in
of Puget Sound — specifically the section titled “Biofouling
still mostly unregulated.”
A second European green crab has been found in Puget Sound, this
one in Padilla Bay — about 30 miles southeast of where the first
one was discovered about three weeks ago.
Green crabs are an invasive species known to devour a variety of
native species and alter habitats where they have become
established. Keeping green crabs out of Puget Sound has been a goal
of state officials for years.
After the first green crab was caught in a volunteer trapping
program three weeks ago, experts mounted an intensive trapping
effort to see if other green crabs were in the area around Westcott
Bay in the San Juan Islands. (Water
Ways, Sept. 3). No live crabs were found, but one cast-off
shell (molt) was discovered nearby (Water
Ways, Sept. 15).
The latest find is a young female crab, 34 millimeters across,
which may have grown from a larva dispersed last winter.
“We were relieved to find very little evidence of a larger
population of invasive European green crab in Westcott Bay,” Emily
Grason of Washington Sea Grant said in a
news release (PDF 371 kb). “But finding an additional crab at a
site more than 30 miles away suggests that ongoing vigilance is
critical across all Puget Sound shorelines. WSG’s Crab Team is
committed to continuing the efforts of volunteer monitoring as
resources allow, but we also rely on beachgoers to keep a watchful
eye out for this invasive species.”
A second rapid-response effort will get underway Monday with
more traps being deployed over a larger area than last time. The
goal is to locate any crabs that may have made a home in the area
and determine where the crabs might be gaining a foothold.
No European green crabs were caught this week during an
intensive two-day trapping program designed to see if any of the
invasive crabs have gained a foothold in the San Juan Islands.
If you recall, a single adult green crab was trapped Aug. 31 by
a team of volunteers in the San Juan Islands. It was the first
green crab ever found in Puget Sound, but experts have been worried
about the crab for years. (See
Water Ways, Sept. 3.) The volunteers are involved in a citizen
science monitoring program to locate green crabs when they first
arrive in Puget Sound and before they become a breeding
The response by professional leaders of the Crab Team was to
place 97 traps in and around the location where the first crab was
found. The effort was started on Monday and repeated on Tuesday.
The maps on this page show the locations and the number of traps
place at site on the two days. Hundreds of native crabs were
trapped and inspected, but no green crabs were found.
Although no live crabs were found, one molt (cast-off shell)
from a green crab was found by Jeff Adams, a marine ecologist for
Washington Sea Grant who manages the Crab Team of volunteers. The
molt was close to where the live crab was found. The experts have
not determined if the molt came from the first crab or if there
might be other crabs in the area.
The next step is still being planned. It could involve another
intensive trapping effort, perhaps in the spring, as well as
increasing the number of volunteer trapping sites in the San Juan
Islands. The volunteer program takes a hiatus in the winter, when
the crabs are less active, but it will resume in the spring.
The next green crab training program is scheduled for March,
when new and former citizen science volunteers will be taught how
to identify green crabs and conduct an effective trapping effort in
up to 30 locations throughout Puget Sound. To learn more about the
volunteer program, check the Washington Sea Grant webpage
“Get Involved” or sign up for a free email newsletter called
“Crab Team News” (click “Newsletters”).
Emily Grason, Crab Team coordinator for Washington Sea Grant,
was involved in the two-day intensive trapping program. Emily blogs
about the effort on the Crab Team website:
A European green crab, one of the most dreaded invasive species
in the world, has finally arrived in Puget Sound.
A single adult green crab was caught in a trap deployed on San
Juan Island by a team of volunteers involved in a regionwide effort
to locate the invasive crabs before they become an established
Until now, green crabs have never been found in Puget Sound,
although they have managed to establish breeding populations along
the West Coast — including Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor in
Washington and the western side of Vancouver Island in British
Here’s what I wrote: “Puget Sound has so far avoided an
invasion of European green crabs — at least none have been found —
but the threat could be just around the corner….
“Green crabs are but one of the invasive species threatening
Washington state, but they are getting special attention because of
fears they could seriously affect the economy and ecosystem of
Puget Sound. Besides devouring young native crabs and shellfish,
they compete for food with a variety of species, including fish and
In Canada, one breeding population has been identified in Sooke
Inlet near the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island. That’s about
40 miles away from Westcott Bay, where Puget Sound’s first green
crab was found on Tuesday.
It is likely that the crab traveled to San Juan Island in its
early free-swimming larval form by drifting with the currents, said
Jeff Adams, a marine ecologist for Washington Sea Grant who manages
the Crab Team of volunteers. This crab likely settled down in
suitable habitat and located enough food to grow into an adult.
Based on the crab’s size, it probably arrived last year, Jeff told
Finding a green crab in Puget Sound is alarming, Jeff said, but
it is a good sign that the first crab was found by the volunteer
monitors. That suggests that the trapping program is working. If
this first crab turns out to be a single individual without a mate,
then the threat would die out, at least for now.
The concern is that if one crab can survive in Puget Sound, then
others may also be lurking around, increasing the chance of
male-female pairing. The next step is to conduct a more extensive
trapping effort in the area where the first green crab was found,
then branch out to other suitable habitats in the San Juan Islands,
Jeff said. The expanded effort is planned for the week of Sept. 11
and will include a search for molts — the shells left behind when
crabs outgrow their exoskeletons and enter a new stage of
Researchers and others who work with invasive species quickly
recovered from their initial surprise at finding a green crab in
Puget Sound, then got down to business in planning how to survey
for crabs and manage their potential impacts.
Allen Pleus, coordinator of the Aquatic Invasive Species Program
at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told me several
weeks ago that if green crabs show up in Puget Sound, one idea
would be to conduct an extensive trapping program to eradicate or
at least reduce their population. First, however, the extent of the
infestation must be identified. I expect that more extensive
trapping will be planned next spring and summer to look for
offspring from any successful mating in the San Juan Islands.
This video shows a green crab found in Willapa Bay on the
Typically, green crabs are found in marshy areas, which are
habitats extensively used by our native hairy shore crab. But Jeff
tells me that some populations of green crabs seem to be expanding
their habitat into more exposed rocky areas.
With roughly 400 suitable sites for the crabs in Puget Sound,
invasive species experts are calling for everyone who visits a
beach to look for green crabs and their molts. One can learn to
identify green crabs from the
Washington Sea Grant website. The volunteer trapping program is
funded by the Environmental Protection Agency with a grant to Fish
A public discussion about green crabs and how people can help
protect Puget Sound from an invasion is scheduled for Sept. 13 at
Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island. See Crab
Team Public Presentation.
We hear about the “balance of nature,” but it’s not something
that we can truly understand until the balance is thrown out of
whack by something like climate change or invasive species.
Until I began a recent reporting project for Puget
Sound Institute, I never realized that San Francisco Bay was
such a hotbed of invasive species. Beginning with the California
Gold Rush, ships began moving in and out of the bay in unbelievable
numbers, arriving from ports all around the world. Now, more than
200 non-native species are making their permanent home in the bay —
including some species that have thoroughly altered the local
So far, we have been lucky in Puget Sound. Experts say we have
about 75 firmly established non-native species, yet none of them
have created the widespread damage caused in San Francisco Bay by
European green crabs and Asian clams or in the Great Lakes by zebra
mussels. The video on this page does a good job of telling the
Great Lakes story, which has been repeated all over the world.
Once people in Washington state realized how disruptive invasive
species can be, the struggle was on to protect Puget Sound from
alien invaders — particularly those found in San Francisco Bay,
which is just a short hop away on the world scale. My series of
stories talks about concerns for Puget Sound and the efforts to
control a possible invasion.
Invasive species range in size from microscopic viruses to
four-foot-long striped bass. In California, the striped bass became
a prized sport fish after it was intentionally introduced in 1879.
But over the past decade concerns have grown for their effects on
the salmon population. The jury is still out on whether high
numbers of stripers should be sustained for anglers or the
population should be fished down rapidly to save salmon and other
species. Check out these stories:
Meanwhile, striped bass have been moving up the West Coast,
possibly because of warmer waters due to climate change. A few
years ago, a 55-pounder was caught in the Columbia River, and I’ve
heard rumors that they have been seen in the Strait of Juan de
On the small side, I report on a tiny crustacean, an invasive
copepod that has almost entirely displaced native copepods in
Samish Bay in northern Puget Sound. Copepods are important prey for
small fish, including herring, which feed the larger salmon. The
invasive copepods are smaller and more difficult for fish to see,
which could have a cascading effect on the entire food web.
A major concern for Puget Sound biologists is the European green
crab, which could move into Puget Sound from San Francisco Bay in
ballast water or with warm ocean currents during an El Niño year,
like the one just past. As I describe in the new series, a major
program involving citizen science volunteers is ongoing in a search
to find the first green crabs before they gain a foothold.
Pacific oysters, another non-native species, were intentionally
brought to the Northwest from Japan in the early 1900s to replace
the native Olympia oyster, which had been decimated by poor water
quality. Pacific oysters soon became a mainstay of the shellfish
industry in the Puget Sound region and are now growing thick in
Similar introductions of Pacific oysters occurred in California
beginning more than 100 years ago, but for some reason the oyster
populations never took hold, according to a report in the
Fish and Game (PDF 1.7 mb). Finally, in the early 2000s, the
invasion began to take off.
“It remains unclear why there should be a successful invasion
now, given the failure of previous attempts to deliberately
introduce the species both locally and throughout California…,” the
“If populations in Southern California waters do continue to
expand and grow, as they have in other areas where they have
invaded, it will undoubtedly bring changes to the way our estuarine
intertidal habitats function as well as in the way we must manage
“Because Pacific oysters rapidly reach large sizes, they could
pose problems related to fouling of maritime equipment,
infrastructure, and vessels,” the report continues. “Pacific
oysters stand out as one of the most transformative invaders of
As Washington state takes steps to keep alien species from
invading Puget Sound from California, California officials may
adopt similar measures to block invaders from coming into that
Please take a look at this package of stories I wrote for Puget
Sound Institute, with editing by Jeff Rice and design by Kris