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NWCC study on invasive species

PRINCE RUPERT, BC, January 29, 2014 – The results are in for a marine species study conducted by Northwest Community College (NWCC).

In partnership with the Port of Prince Rupert, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, NWCC student volunteers and faculty surveyed select habitats in the Prince Rupert, British Columbia harbour to look for invasive European green crabs during the summer of 2013.

“It was fascinating to learn about the green crab invasion,” said Janette Fumanti, a Career and College Preparation student at NWCC Prince Rupert Campus. “We had this incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with a lot of local species. The bull sea lion was amazing!”

The European green crab, a non-indigenous species, has been marching northward along the Pacific Coast since 1998 and has reached Gale Passage, near Bella Bella in 2011. It is feared that if they become established, they could possibly deplete local populations of the indigenous Dungeness crab.

NWCC students and instructors set strings of modified shrimp traps to determine if the crabs have come as far north as Prince Rupert. A number of volunteers from the community helped the NWCC crew monitor the trap line throughout the summer and were able to observe many species, big and small.

“It was really interesting to introduce people to organisms they never heard of. Whales are always impressive, but our students and volunteers were just as intrigued by little creatures, how they live and how they fit into the environment,” said Cheryl Paavola, Science Lab Technician and CCP instructor at NWCC. “For example, students got to watch a sunflower star eat a herring in a bait box by sending its stomach through the cracks of the box to digest the fish.”

The NWCC study concluded that none of the invasive European green crabs have been detected in the Prince Rupert harbour.

“We’re very pleased with the results of the study and this great opportunity for students to learn about a diversity of marine species,” said Peter Freeman, Applied Coastal Ecology instructor at NWCC Prince Rupert Campus. “By applying the knowledge and skills they learned in the classroom, our students are making an important contribution to maintaining the pristine nature of Prince Rupert.”

About NWCC
Northwest Community College (NWCC) is an accredited post-secondary institution offering comprehensive education and training to 34 urban, rural and remote communities in northwestern BC. Through an innovative distributed learning model that includes nine campuses and learning centres, current technology, mobile units, and successful partnerships, NWCC brings relevant education and training directly to where it is needed. NWCC is a recognized leader in Aboriginal education where Aboriginal people make up roughly 40 per cent of the student body. NWCC celebrates the diversity of its northern and Aboriginal populations and reflects this in its programs, services and workforce. To learn more, visit


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Debra Wall, Acting manager, Communications & Public Relations
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