The Spiderman Crayfish

No doubt you've heard of the spiderman lizard: (The Mwanza flat-headed rock agama Agama mwanzae). But I think this guy deserves the same 'Spiderman' moniker. The red and blue spinycrayfish, Euastacus fleckeri, is endemic to North QLD. Happily for me it's also diurnal, making finding one a relatively easy and hugely fun proposition.


Fifteen species of spiny mountain crayfish have been identified in Queensland, living in cold, fast-flowing streams. In south-east Queensland, suitably cold habitat is found as low as 250m. The further north the crayfish are found, the higher their lower limits, until they are found only above 800m in North Queensland. Each mountain range has its own species of spiny crayfish and genetic samples have confirmed that all have a common ancestor.

It's thought that this ancestral crayfish expanded its range into Queensland over 5,000,000 yrs ago, when temperatures were cooler and rainforest more extensive. With climate change came a contraction and fragmentation of forest habitat, resulting in different mountain top populations separating and evolving into different species. ^


With the temperature and the humidity rising here on the coast it's bliss to slip up a hill and step into cool crisp water. The area, (Mt Lewis), was once a hive of human activity with logging and tin mining being carried out there. Now though, much of it is a national park - complete with the usual shot-up signs and smatterings of rubbish left by 'grown' mummies boys and their wine-cooler princesses ... (no, no - it's alright, we cleaned up after ya's - ya fu....!!!)

Ahem ...

Anyway, it's worth a look if you get the chance. Simply turn right (if you're coming from the coast) at the highlander pub (you can't miss it), and follow your nose. To get to the top it's a good idea to be in a high clearance 4WD, or have ya walkin shoes on - but it's completely up to you.












The very spot


Excuse the amount of particulate in the pics - it's quite difficult to both blunder around in a creek AND get decent shots to share without stirring up a bit of sediment. Patience was definitely the order of the day. Unfortunately the crayfish, (sick of my faffing), clambered out of the water and started heading for the bush!. I intervened, Jo snapped a pic of him in all his indignant glory, moments before I carefully placed him back in his creek - no worse for wear.

I had my pics and he obviously had the hump - so it was time to say goodbye.


A defensive display to warm the heart eh?


A remarkable little beastie and if the boffins are to be believed, one that may well be an indicator species with regard to climate change. If things are indeed getting a bit warmer - that'll eventually spell disaster for the spiderman crayfish. A prospect that I find incredibly depressing ...

But hey, they're not gone yet and where there's life, there's hope eh? ...

So 'till next time, take care - Paul :)


Australasia has over 100 species in a dozen genera. Many of the better-known Australian crayfish are of the genus Cherax, and include the marron (now believed to be two species, Cherax tenuimanus and C. cainii), red-claw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus), common yabby (Cherax destructor) and western yabby (Cherax preissii). The marron are some of the largest crayfish in the world. They grow up to several pounds in size. C. tenuimanus is critically endangered, while other large Australasian crayfish are threatened or endangered.

Australia is home to the world's two largest freshwater crayfish – the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish Astacopsis gouldi, which can achieve a mass of up to 5 kilograms (11 lb) and is found in the rivers of northern Tasmania, and the Murray crayfish Euastacus armatus, which can reach 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) and is found in much of the southern Murray-Darling basin.

The two species of Paranephrops are endemic to New Zealand, where they are known by the Māori name kōura. ^

Comments

  1. What a beauty, Paul! Fantastic colours. Makes our yabbies on the farm look very dull! I would have enjoyed mucking about in the water. Looks like a relief from the dry stuff. Great post. :)

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