Studying Dungeness Crab in the Salish Sea

The students at Hornby Island Community School have been partnering with The Natural History Centre and Hornby Island Diving on the Sentinels of Change Project studying Dungeness Crab in the Salish Sea.

Like many marine invertebrate species, crabs go through several life stages before becoming the adult versions that we know them as. This includes starting life as free-swimming ocean creatures in the open sea as part of the “sea soup” of wonderfully ornate and captivating small organisms known as plankton. The study will track Dungeness crab megalopae, the last larval crab stage before the crabs stop swimming and start crawling on the seafloor.

The project requires using a light trap prepared by the Hakai Institute deployed off the dock off Ford Cove. The trap does not harm the crab larvae and will estimate the amount of crab larvae predicting the abundance of Dungeness crabs four years in the future.

Facilitated by Hornby Island Diving, students from the community school and volunteers from The Natural History Centre are assisting the monitoring of the traps, playing a key role in bettering our understanding of change in the Salish Sea.