Crayfish not an ‘easy feed’

Prolonged drought followed by heavy flooding is a common cause of Blackwater. Low levels of oxygen in the water are affecting many species in the Murray River in particularly, the crayfish, who become prey to people who view them as an ‘easy feed’ says La Trobe University’s Dr Susan Lawler.

Murray Crayfish‘The Murray crayfish crawl out of the water when the oxygen levels are low but unlike fish, crayfish can seal their gill chambers so that they can survive for many hours out of the water. Unfortunately, people think they are dying and eat them which could be contributing to a decline in numbers,’ says Dr Lawler, Head of the Department of Environmental Management and Ecology, Albury-Wodonga.

Crayfish are already vulnerable to birds and other predators and people should not add to the population decline already prevalent within the Murray River. Crawling out of the water is a Murray crayfish trait; they have done it before and will do it again.  It is not appropriate to pick up crayfish outside of the fishing season, for whatever reason.

‘Everyone thinks all bets are off when Blackwater is involved, but when people contribute to the Murray Crayfish decline it affects the species and ecology,’ says Dr Lawler.

Dr Susan Lawler can be contacted on Tel: (02) 6024 9874 or Email: s.lawler@latrobe.edu.au 



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