Blue Crabs a la Turka

Blue Crabs from Dalyan Golu, Enez, Edirne, Turkey

This past month I moved back to Turkey, where I was living before starting my PhD at Northeastern. My husband lives here, and as he also works in ecology and evolution research, the summer often presents some opportunities to get into the field. This time we are looking for blue crabs, which are an invasive species in the Mediterranean. Researchers from the University of Texas and Duke (led by Pablo Munguai) are investigating the genetics of the crabs to understand the source(s) of the invasion.

A small crowd gathers to watch as the blue crab samples are processed in the town center.


The place we have come to find the crabs is the small town of Enez, adjacent to the Greek border. For this reason, field work is a bit more complicated and involves coordinating with both local authorities and the military at the border. However, after some small delays, we have had success and are now processing the samples at the local cafe – attracting quite a bit of curiosity from onlookers.

A view of the lagoon from the castle wall.




In addition to the research itself – there are some perks of doing research in Turkey – one of which is that you can combine a days work with a stroll to the Roman/Byzantine castle down the street (click this link for a cool interactive view of a part of the castle).


2 thoughts on “Blue Crabs a la Turka

  1. Blue crabs have invaded the Mediterranean? Dang! Since when? Those vicious buggers are going to wreak havoc. Are there any native swimming crabs in the Med or are the blue crabs alone in that niche?

    1. Being new to this topic, I consulted our friend Unsal Karhan, an expert in the crabs of Turkey. He says there are about 15 species of swimming crabs in the Mediterranean, but the ones most similar to the blue crab are two other invasive species which are from the Red Sea: Charybdis hellerii and Portunus segnis.The fishermen here really dislike the blue crabs though because they are often tearing their gill nets, and they are not harvested as a commercial species in this area. In some regions to the east (particularly Silifke and Fethiye) they are consumed and are not viewed as such pests.

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