The Northern Coastal Yabby Cherax cuspidatus (Riek 1969)
Over Xmas 2010 as part of the Australian Crayfish Project (ACP) we were surveying coastal NSW for the Northern
Coastal Yabby (Cherax cuspidatus). This expedition was from Bonny Hills to Harrington, NSW.
It is a relatively widespread and common yabby found in eastern drainages from north of the Manning River to the Queensland border in NSW, Australia.
It is found in small ephemeral creeks and wet areas that range from close to the salt water that can be infested with eels, fish and bass, to well up in the drainage where no fish or eels survive. These creeks can run through temperate rainforest, dry eucalyptus forest or open grazing areas. The key seems to be that they only inhabit intermittent streams. Those swamps, streams or rivers that have permanent water
will generally not have large populations of Cherax cuspidatus as there are just too many predators in those coastal systems.
Cherax cuspidatusis a burrowing species that cannot survive without a decent burrow. These yabbies generally have burrow entrances at the waters edge or up to 300 mm above the water level. Burrows have three to five entrances that may run parallel to the waters surface then lead into a central single burrow that goes in a general downward direction. The central burrow may go directly down in a corkscrew or spiral fashion if no obstructions. They can survive extended droughts in their burrow system as they are a very tough, hardy species. They are an opportunistic predatory species and readily attracted to meat or fish baits. Mostly a nocturnal species that is active throughout the night, however, like most Cherax species they will be active during the day in muddy or turbid water when they can’t see each other or anything else.
The ACP continues and slowly but surely we will survey the whole of Australia recording all the species present and their colour variations between populations.