Throughout time, the blue swimming crab, aka Portunus segnis, has slowly spread from the Western Indian Ocean to the Red Sea and, with the opening of the Suez Canal, to the Eastern Mediterranean. In six years or so, this colorful creature has colonized the entire Tunisian coast, where it feeds on local mollusks, fish, and other crustaceans.
Trade expansion and climate change have made it possible for this Indo-Pacific crab and other species to get to areas otherwise out of reach or inhabitable to them, rapidly reshaping biological distribution worldwide. This particularly jumps to the eye in the Mediterranean, a semi-enclosed shallow sea warming up faster than the global ocean. Since the opening of the Suez, major biodiversity transformations have been already taking place in this basin, and have intensified in the past 20 years or so. Climate projections suggest that will be even greater in the next decades.
Eventually some shifts may even bring new opportunities of employment and economic growth. In Tunisia, for instance, fishers had at first cursed at the stranger blue crab for destroying their nets and damaging their catch, to then realize their meat could be marketed.
Other countries like Italy, Spain, or France are looking at what is happening in Tunisia to tackle their own issues with another invasive blue crab, this one coming from the Atlantic–Callinectes sapidus.
This project aims to look at ways science can contribute navigating major biogeographical transformations climate change and globalization have been favoring, such as exploring the quest for a more adaptive approach to fisheries.