UW-L students find Chesapeake blue crab in La Crosse area

Crab made more than 1,000 mile journey

Three UW-La Crosse students found a Chesapeake blue crab, which is native to the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, on French Island.

Abbey Johnson, Brittany Kujath and Katie Mabery were working on video project for their scientific methods class in mid-November when they found the crab along the shoreline at Airport Beach.

The students’ instructor Carol Witt-Smith said it’s a bit of a mystery how the crab made it more than 1,000 miles through river dams well outside its native habitat. She and her students agree the most likely scenario is that the crab hitched a ride north on a barge. Or it could have been released as an unwanted pet.

The students named the crab, “Brabbie” a combination of all of their names. It was alive when the students found it. They left it and told their instructor about their find the next day. Witt-Smith went back to the beach the next day and discovered the crab had not survived the night. She brought the crab to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for further identification.