Climate change indicator crab recorded for the first time at Kimmeridge

Furrowed crab © Julie Hatcher

Over the Easter weekend, low tides surfaced some unusual findings at Kimmeridge and Charmouth where the ‘Furrowed Crab’ (Xantho hydrophilus) was found. This crab is very common further in the southwest in Devon and Cornwall but has been very rarely recorded in Dorset.

It is a climate-change indicator, expected to spread east and north with warming seas, so these finds, both of mature individuals, may be a warning that climate change is changing the abundance of creatures on the seashore.

Other seashore species have been spreading eastwards into Dorset and beyond in recent years too.  Julie Hatcher, Marine Awareness Officer for Dorset Wildlife Trust said “Since I began working at Kimmeridge 15 years ago we have recorded the arrival and increase of Toothed Topshells on the seashore. These sea snails are common further west but have grown from none at all in the early 2000s to being a common find at Kimmeridge today. The small cushion star has also become common here since the first sighting in 2014. We now expect the Furrowed Crab to increase in abundance here too.”

Among other marine species that have arrived in Dorset and since increased in number include the anemone shrimp, an exotic looking animal that lives within the stinging tentacles of the snakelocks anemone.

Julie added: “The problem comes when the new arrivals compete with the resident creatures as they may impact on their numbers and have unforeseen consequences.”

DWT will continue to monitor these new arrivals and their numbers.  DWT is asking for members of the public to send in their photos and sightings of any animals they find on the seashore or in our Dorset seas. kimmeridge@dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk