Life in Newtown Creek: Blue crabs

September 19, 2010

So on our trip I was personally interesting in the number of blue crabs that we saw. As those who went know, the water was very bad. For those of you who didn’t make it, or those who forget, we saw two blue crabs on top of each other (possibly fighting, possibly mating) under the mysterious yellowish outflow pipe that was running and another at our “picnic spot” for lunch.

I looked into it, and it seems as though blue crabs and other crustaceans actually are more susceptible to pollutants and toxins than I thought. However, in the creek and in other parts of the harbor (namely the Hudson) blue crabs are able to avoid predators and become a top predator in stressed environments. They are also not always active predators like birds or other fish, they eat mostly decaying bits on the muddy bottom or smaller blue crabs. Also, in many places in the Newtown Creek there are extremely low dissolved oxygen levels because the DO is broken down by the raw sewage that is dumped into the creek. The many abandoned structures– both the rusting pipes and the random chairs, broken piers, etc–give whatever marine life can survive there a structural advantage. I wonder if the outflow, though most likely toxic, was providing this particular area of the creek with higher dissolved oxygen and the crabs had a rotting pipeline as its local habitat.

It is  interesting to me to see these crabs in such a polluted environment, but I have read that they are being used as indicator species for the fishing industry in the Gulf after the BP oil spill.

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