EXPERTS believe Mount Martha may have been the landing place of an invasive marine pest.
A photograph of what is suspected as being an Asian shore crab has sparked a request from Agriculture Victoria for beachgoers to be on the lookout.
Originally from waters around Japan, Russia, North China and Korea, the Asian shore crab is not known to be established in Australia, but it has the potential to become a major pest.
Agriculture Victoria’s principal officer invasive marine species Dr Richard Stafford-Bell said Asian shore crabs could spread rapidly and consume and outcompete native species, including scallops, mussels and oysters.
The crab could also spread disease to our native prawns, crabs and lobsters.
“The key features of the Asian shore crab are banded markings on the legs, three spines on either side of the eyes, spots on the claws and a square-shaped shell up to about four centimetres wide,” Dr Stafford-Bell said.
The Asian shore crab can spread naturally or be relocating to new areas attached to fishing and diving equipment and the hulls of vessels, including kayaks and canoes.
“All equipment used in marine areas should be washed in fresh water after use then thoroughly dried to reduce the risk of spreading marine pests. This is particularly important for people moving any equipment used in Port Phillip to other areas,” Dr Stafford-Bell said.
He said anyone who thinks they have seen an Asian shore crab should photograph it if possible and report the sighting to Agriculture Victoria, noting the location, date and time.