Tanner crabs (Chionoecetes tanneri) captured in June 2016 at 1,250 metres below the surface at Barkley Canyon. (Photo courtesy UVic’s Ocean Networks Canada)

WATCH: Methane-snacking crabs adaptive to climate change, UVic researchers say

A joint research study shows that B.C. crabs are making the most of methane seeps

Tanner crabs living on the seafloor of the northeast Pacific Ocean may be adaptive to climate change, according to a recent study by the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada and the Oregon State University.

The crabs were originally thought to exclusively eat phytoplankton until researchers observed them snacking on methane-filled bacteria about 1.2 km deep in B.C.’s oceans.

“Evidence shows the crabs’ diet is diverse and includes bacteria that processes methane,” said Fabio De Leo, co-author of the study and senior scientist at the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada, in an emailed statement.

ALSO READ: Viral video shows Sooke resident calling out illegal crab fishers

“This suggests that their populations may be able to adapt if their common food source becomes scarce. By studying and collecting these specimens, we can learn how a variety of sea-dwelling species are adapting to ongoing changes linked to climate change.”

The crabs were observed near methane seeps, also known as cold seeps, which are continental-margin areas where methane comes up from the ocean floor.

Researchers observed the unusual sight of a Tanner crab flipping up on its chest – near the seep due to methane build –so they collected specimens and found biochemical markers in the crabs’ muscles, stomachs and tissues.

Researchers also observed the crabs migrating, suggesting that Tanner crabs could be forwarding methane-based food energy to other seafloor-dwelling species.

ALSO READ: Invasive crab spotted near Sooke

“The thinking used to be that the marine food web relied almost solely on phytoplankton dropping down through the water column and fertilizing the depths,” says Andrew Thurber, a marine ecologist at Oregon State University and co-author on the study. “Now we know that this viewpoint isn’t complete and there may be many more facets to it.”

The study began in 2012 and findings were recently published in the Frontiers in Marine Science magazine.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Trail senior has her voice heard by Interior Health

At the end of the day, Rina is hoping that she was heard and that things will change

Morning Moon

If you have a recent photo to share, email it (large or actual) to editor@trailtimes.ca

Police bust drug operation in Castlegar

Man charged, will go to court in August

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmore Junction

Bandwagon for the Trail Smoke Eaters

Game 6 is Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Trail

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Rural Kootenay communities to receive high-speed internet upgrade

The provincial government is increasing internet connectivity to rural British Columbia

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Most Read