European Green Crab (Carcinus maenas)

Key Features

Five spines on each side of carapace.

Mature Crabs:

  • have five well-defined spines on both sides of the upper carapace starting at the eye
  • have deep grooves in the upper carapace
  • do not have swimming 'paddles' on last pair of legs.

Picture of Introduced European Green Crab 

European Green Crab Carcinus maenas
(Photograph by CRIMP - CSIRO Marine Research)

Which Native Crabs Look Similar?

Paragrapsus gaimardii but it has no spines.

Picture of Paragrapsus gaimardiis with green line indicating absence of spines on shell near eye.

Native crab Paragrapsus gaimardiis
(CRIMP - CSIRO Marine Research)

Nectocarcinus integrifrons
but it has 3 spines.

Picture of Nectocarcinus integrifrons with green arrow indicating distinguishing feature of 3 spines on both sides of the upper shell starting at the eye.

Native crab Nectocarcinus integrifrons
(CRIMP - CSIRO Marine Research)

Ovalipes australiensis
but it has swimming paddles.

Picture of Ovalipes australiensis with green lines pointing to paddles on last leg.

Native crab Ovalipes australiensis
(CRIMP - CSIRO Marine Research)


  • intertidal and shallow subtidal zones of bays and estuaries
  • can live in sandy, shelly, seagrass or muddy sediments
  • crab colour may very depending on habitat.


Map of Tasmania showing in red the distribution of the green crab across the whole of the north coast and down the East coast.
The European green crab is widely distributed across the whole of the North coast and down the East coast to Blackmans Bay (near Dunalley). There have also been reports of carapaces (dead shells) found as far south as Woodbridge but no sightings of live specimens have been confirmed.

Permit Required!

To reduce the risk of further spreading this marine pest, it has been listed as a noxious species under the Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995. To collect and possess this species requires a permit which may be obtained from the Department by calling 6233 6208.

What Can You Do:

  • clean and anti-foul boat hulls regularly
  • clean/wash shellfish and clean/dry aquaculture gear before transporting to a different lease
  • report sightings of Carcinus to the Marine Environment contact.
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