Sunday, January 27, 2008

Meet Ya Down at the Crawdad Hole

I’ve got some exciting news that isn’t immediately related to the EUT of the week, but is still pretty cool. I got cited by Wikipedia! And, even more exciting, EDGE just put up a new Amphibians chapter… and I got cited by them! For the same post! Looking at my Sagalla Caecilian post, it’s not even particularly in-depth, but it’s somehow linkable by pretty big names. Excuse me while I go deflate my ego….

I found this week’s EUT a while ago, but somehow never got around to writing about it. Like a few other of my past posts, if you take a perfectly innocuous animal and make it huge, it slips right into the ugly category. On a side note, I’m surprised how few crustaceans I’ve written about so far.

Image from RamPumps.com
Image from RamPumps.com
The Tasmanian Giant Freshwater Crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi) has enough modifiers in its common name that I don’t particularly need to explain its range, its habitat, or its superfamily. Its size could use some description, as it isn’t Giant Salamander or Giant Catfish giant, with a record of six and a half pounds and two and a half feet, it’s still a freakin’ big crayfish, not to mention the largest freshwater invertebrate.

I suppose I could also define its habitat more precisely, as they prefer clean, wooded rivers, and the juveniles are mostly found in headwater streams. Like most crayfish1, the Giant Crayfish is omnivorous, or, as this site states: “Their diet consists mainly of decaying wood, but they will also consume leaves, small fish, and rotting flesh.”

As a general rule, as a species gets larger, it takes longer to reach sexual maturity, and this is no exception. It takes males nine years and females fourteen years before they’re able to make little Giant Crayfish, and they can live up to 40 years. This, coupled with the completely unsurprising problem of overharvesting, has lead to their decline in numbers, and subsequent listing. The problem of habitat loss exists for the Giant Crayfish, just like it shows up for most headwater species.

Tasmania is doing commendably well in terms of conservation efforts. It has been illegal to collect a Giant Crayfish since 1995, and there have been habitat conservation programs and education programs running around the island in an attempt to save these cute little massive crayfish.

1I know, I know, not a fish. A lot of the Australian sources are calling it a lobster, and I suppose I could always resort to “crawdad,” but I’ve always called them crayfish, and never thought of them as fish.

2 comments:

Teeny Poet said...

Where did you catch that crayfish?
Australia did you say. I recently started getting into crawdad fishing and I love it Peace

nicoleshe said...

Thnx for sharing the article. This is so timely since I'm trying problems just like this, and this shop also I'm really planning attempting this myself.