Antarctica Has a Bad Case of Crabs


Pay the hurricanes and earthquakes no mind, what we really need to worry about are the giant crabs set to take over Antarctica. They have arrived, with their “crushing claws and ecosystem-altering habits,” in a deep basin in the Antarctic continental shelf, and oceanographers are worried not only that they’ll hurt other species, but also, after an entire ecological history of them not being there: What does this move mean?

This kind of King Crab is known to live in Antarctica’s Ross Sea, south of New Zealand. The new spot they’re inhabiting, in numbers nearing 2 million, is south of South America. Along with the threat they present to the animal life on the seafloor–they dig for worms and feed on sea lilies and basket stars (which are now missing where the crabs have been found)–there’s another terrifying concern: After millions of years of the crabs not being able to cross the cold water of the continental shelf…now they can.

Why is this happening? Three guesses (you only need one).

“It looks like a pretty negative consequence of climate warming in the Antarctic,” said Craig Smith, a professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who led the research into the new crab population, estimated at 1.6 million, in the Palmer Deep.

Given the warming trend, these crabs could move up onto the shelf within one to two decades, according to the researchers.

And two decades after that, they’ll be in New York City, driving up rents and stealing our jobs and fucking up the environment. Assuming we still have an environment at that point.

Warning: King crabs encroaching on Antarctica [NBC]