Up for a salty adventure in a pristine and protected coastal estuary? Take part in this exclusive maritime experience and help protect native species from the invasive European Green Crab

Start your journey on a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle and enjoy the ride to a protected and secluded lagoon destination. At the field station you’ll learn about trapping techniques and data collection then it’s off to the rowboats. Be prepared to get your hands wet and have fun as you weave your rowboat between the stunning granite islands pulling traps from the water and handling fish and crabs alike. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to help save a fragile ecosystem and enjoy an idyllic landscape.

Operation Green Crab at Kejimkujik National Park Seaside

Transcript

[wide shot of beautiful white sand beach]

Gabrielle Beaulieu: Kejimkujik Seaside is absolutely beautiful. It’s a rugged coastline, lots of coastal forest, bogs, rocky headlands, and also estuaries behind the sandy dune beaches. Although their beauty is quite pronounced, there is something going on beneath the surface of the water.

Chris McCarthy: We didn’t know for sure at the time exactly what it was,

but we noticed, for example, that our eelgrass had declined to about two percent of the original amount that occurred there. As well, we had some really good monitoring data on soft-shelled clams,and those had had a major decline in terms of the smaller ones. We didn’t know for sure what was going on at this point, but we did know that green crab can cause major disruptions to both of these species.

[Shot of green crab]

So this was not quite the “smoking gun,” but it gave us a good indication of what the problem was. Gabrielle: European green crabs are an invasive species from Europe and North Africa area, and basically, in terms of eelgrass, they will dig it up and rip it up to get at their food beneath the surface of the sediments. The eelgrass in our estuaries provides a very important role. It’s the structure that allows it to become a nursery for a lot of the commercial species of fish found across the Maritime region. Any eelgrass that’s lost, gets rid of a lot of habitat that exists for juvenile fish.

Chris:In a typical unharvested soft-shelled clam population, there should be about ten thousand ten thousand of the tiny spat, compared to every larger adult clam. In our situation, it was totally reversed: there was way more of the big clams, and none of the smaller, which makes for a big problem.

Migrating shore birds, they show up there, because this is the important food basket for their southward migration. They need to stop here, stock up the food basket, and continue on south. For us here, we saw a decline in the shore birds as well, just incidentally, because likely, a lot of these soft-shelled clams and other inverts that we’re not even monitoring, were missing, because the green crab was probably decimating those. Gabrielle: So it was decided, along with community members in the surrounding areas, that it may be worthwhile to remove green crabs from the estuaries, to see if we can bring the ecosystem back

[wide shot of estuary]

to what it’s supposed to be, as well as to see if that had an effect on the populations of eelgrass and soft-shelled clam here.

Chris: So from that, we started a green crab control program with very careful monitoring. In terms of numbers, our original catch-and-release estimates were way under: but I don’t think anybody had any idea that the numbers that were there, were there.

[close shot of green crabs in trap]

Gabrielle: The estimates were that we probably had three hundred thousand green crabs here. In fact, since 2010, we have been able to remove over one and a half million.

Chris: We started to see eelgrass come back right away. In 2010, we had two percent of our original amount of eelgrass. We’ve been able to bring it back by ten percent every year, where the crabs are under control, and this was really proven very well through our eelgrass transplants.

We tried transplanting in different areas, where we had different levels of control of the green crabs. Where we did have control, we had somewhere between a 70 and 90 percent survival rate of the eelgrass we had transplanted. This past year, soft-shelled clams, which we’d be missing all the small ones, since we’ve got control of the green crab, we see the smaller clams coming back, and that’s exciting.

Gabrielle: This being said, we’ve also noticed that the rate of removal has slowed down; this may indicate that the larger,

more reproductive crabs are starting to reduce in numbers such that we may be able to slow down our rate of removals,

[Parks Canada employee with estuary background]

maybe skip a year or two in between, because the smaller crabs would need quite a bit of time to get to reproductive potential.

[Parks Canada employee with forest background]

Chris:A really important thing to mention here is that Parks Canada took a big chance here in trying to do something with the green crabs. Nobody was really dealing with it; people knew of green crabs,

but I don’t think anybody really understood the problem until eelgrass started to disappear. We, I believe, are certainly leaders in terms of this

[employee measuring green crab]

and it’s been certainly a privilege to work on this project with the great people that have been involved. It’s a real success story.

[Wide shot of estuary]

Gabrielle: Little Port Joli today is beautiful. The eelgrass has almost completely come back; we’re seeing a lot of new species coming back to where they once used to be, a lot of juvenile fish, a lot of different birds.

[underwater shot of eelgrass]

In 2015 we were able to transfer all of our efforts over to St. Catherine’s River estuary, for the first time. The situation over there is there’s still no eelgrass, the numbers of green crab are quite high, but as we’ve just begun there this year, we’re going to continue the project

and hopefully be able to do some transplanting of eelgrass, and continue to bring the numbers down.

[Parks Canada Logo]

[Text: Her Majesty the Queen in Rights of Canada, Represented by Parks Canada]

[Canada logo]

Kejimkujik Seaside National Park.

Availability: July and August
Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 10 am to 2 pm 
Cost: $60.65 per person
Ages: 8 and above
Duration: 4 hours
Group Size: Maximum 6 participants per group

Reservations: Contact Us
Reservations open May 15, 2020. 

Schedule for the day:
10:00 am: Meet at Seaside kiosk; introduction and safety overview
10:30 am: Ride to field station with stops for photos and interpretation
11 am: Arrive at field station; project background and prepare rowboats
11:15 am to 12:30 pm: Row a boat and pull some traps
12:30 pm to 1:00 pm: Lunch break surrounded by Seaside sounds and scenery
1:00 pm to 1:30 pm: Photos and return to field station; measure some crabs
1:30 pm to 2:00 pm: Return ride to parking lot with photo opportunities; conclusion

Notes
• All participants will be contacted the night before to confirm program details
• Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch, water and snacks. Time for lunch will be provided on a beautiful lagoon island. Even better - treat yourself to a Parks Canada Perfect Picnic
• Rubber boots are highly recommended.
• The program is not suitable for persons with mobility issues.
• Program runs rain or shine; however, cancellation can occur in severe weather conditions

Cancellations:
• Must be made at least three days (72 hours) before the day of without penalty fee. Penalty fee consists of 50% of total cost of booking.
• If the program is cancelled due to weather, participants will be notified between 3 pm and 4 pm the day before and given the opportunity to re-book
• A waiting list will be kept; however, if a program is cancelled due to weather, this group's re-booking will be given priority over others on the waiting list


Testimonials:

“Best value for money in Nova Scotia this summer!”
“Very unique experience, informative and entertaining. A perfect fit for our teenagers on vacation.”
“This was a wonderful way to experience the park as a family. Loved the hands-on experience and such a great way to get to know Parks Canada.”

empty rowboat at edge of coastal estuary