Wednesday, 21 January 2009

A BAD CASE OF CRABS



I had difficulty this evening in deciding what to comment on from local Thanet news that was reported whilst 'Strife' was down. Unlike Ms Wenham-Jones, I am delighted that the closed Woolies premises in Broadstairs might be opened again as an Iceland outlet; its good for the High Street and will offer much needed jobs. Was I the only one to be annoyed by the the pompous tone in her article in the Gazunder last week?

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Time to get on topic! The picture above is courtesy of Martin Thain and KM Extra. It shows just a few hundred of the thousands of Velvet Swimming Crabs washed up on Thanet beaches after the recent cold spell. Macropipus puber is a shallow water crab that has a poor tolerance of low temperatures and does not survive for long out of water, despite being an aggressive 'wee beastie' as those who have been nipped by it will remember.

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A drop in coastal water temperature during the cold spell probably induced a simple state of 'crustacean hypothermia' and in a semi-comatose state, these crabs were unable to hang on securely when rough water dislodged them from their nooks and crannies in underwater chalk/rock outcrops. The result sadly seems to have been a mass beaching in cold air and death would have come on quickly. I suspect the Environmental Agency will find no pollution cause or odd virus for this phenomenon.

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What should be of more concern to us is the situation in Pegwell Bay where we have seen a wipe out of mussel beds and a decline in both the size and vigour of the lugworm population. There is clear evidence of pollution in this very sensitive site that has a number of extraordinary outlets depositing possibly contaminated water into the bay. The Environment Agency need to monitor this situation more closely perhaps with TDC and KCC?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think Jane Wenham-Thing was pompous but trying, and failing, to be amusing and to show how sophisticated she is. How much better when she does a 'straight' report like when she interviewed Cllr. Ezekiel. There's not enough reporting in-depth in the Gazette but perhaps she's paid to be light-hearted and pseudo-sophisticated.

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall something about some discharge into Pegwell Bay from the airport in a posting by Michale Child. Perhaps this has an impact together with the anglers digging for bait at low tide.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Bertie, sometimes to much fresh water can be deadly to lugworm and mussels.
A simple experiment would be to put a lug worm in fresh water it will be dead within the hour. Not to sure how long it would take for a mussel to die.

Bertie Biggles said...

09.26, my understanding is that anglers have been 'seeding' Pegwell bay sands with lugworms to increase the population! It would seem in their interests to do so.

Interesting observation, Tony. The hazards of estuarine waters where freshwater and salt water can mix at different levels of salinity always poses challenges to creatures in those habitats. Have we had too much discharge of water into Pegwell on occasions? Has it also contained pollutants? I hope the EA will be taking more interest in what is happening down there.