Australian Aquatic Biological

Australian aquatic biodiversity research and consultancy

A guide to Australia’s Spiny Freshwater Crayfish

The “NEW BOOK” will hit the bookshop in July 2012

A guide to Australias Spiny Freshwater Crayfish

A guide to Australias Spiny Freshwater Crayfish

Preface

Australia is the lucky country with the three largest freshwater crayfish species in the world. The largestis the Giant Tasmanian Freshwater Crayfish (Astocopsis gouldi), next is the Murray Lobster (Euastacus armatus) and then the West Australian Marron (Cherax cainii).

This publication refers to Australia’s Euastacus Crayfish which are the largest of the 10 genera of Australian freshwater crayfish. We cover the full 50 Euastacus species found in Australia, from the iconic giant Murray Lobsters (Euastacus armatus) that are recreationally fished to the exceedingly rare tiny species, like Euastacus maidae from the NSW/Qld coastal border region. These uniquely Australian mainland crayfish range from Cooktown in far north Queensland to Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, the southernmost point of the Australian mainland. Many are found in or around major population centres, making them well known to many people. For example, Euastacus spinifer and Euastacus australasiensis are found throughout the Sydney region. Euastacus yarraensis is found around Melbourne and Euastacus sulcatus from the outskirts of Brisbane.

They are referred to as the “Spiny Crayfish” due to impressive arrays of spines on their hard armoured shells. Most species are very colourful with their spines in highlighted colours that enhance their size and shape. Owing to their unique colouration, wide distribution and in many cases impressively large size, these species are of interest to a huge section of the community.

The giant spiny crayfish are the pinnacle for crayfish enthusiasts and I have always had a passion for crayfish and have spent my life either catching them for pets or growing them commercially. For over 20 years I have made a living by culturing both Cherax and Euastacus crayfish commercially. All my time and efforts over that period have been devoted to making a living from the aquaculture of crayfish. Aquaculture is not for the weak, it’s a tough life with small profit margins. When I started little known about freshwater crayfish aquaculture, so I had to learn as I went and just about every mistake that could be made, I made. Over the years, with the help of the researchers and crayfish gurus from around Australia, I eventually learnt the recipe for success in crayfish farming and my farm prospered. Now I have sold the farm and have the time and resources to follow my passion for freshwater crayfish and I am investigating all of those species that this continent has to offer.

The Australian Crayfish Project (ACP) was conceived to increasing the knowledge base on all our Australian crayfish species and the promotion of the conservation and protection of these crayfish and their fragile habitats. Over the years I have come across numerous species that were undescribed and unknown by the authorities and there seemed to be huge gaps in the most basic knowledge of so many of these unique native species. We are extremely lucky in Australia, there are vast areas of State Forests and National Parks that offer perfect refuges for our native crayfish and we are still discovering species that have never been seen before. With the help of scientists, researchers and enthusiasts the ACP is investigating and recording knowledge of all of our crayfish species.

This book provides the most up to date information collected over the last seven years as part of the ACP on the species, their identification, biology and distributions. Many of these species are in desperate need of protection and conservation management and we hope you will share our concern and add your voice to help protect and conserve them for all eternity.

Aquatic Biodiversity Survey and Baseline Mapping of Freshwater Crayfish and Aquatic Species of the Gosford Local Government Area

As Part of the Australian Crayfish Project and a sub project 100056 we have been conducting aquatic biological surveys the whole of the Gosford LGA. This project is major sponsored by Australian Aquatic Biological and receives sponsorship from Gosford City Council under their Ecological Research Grants scheme 2010. The project reached fruition in May 2012 with a total of ten aquatic biological catchments reports being issued to Gosford City Council.

The biological surveys were undertaken as part of both the broad Australian Crayfish Project (ACP) and Australian Aquatic Biological Survey (AABS) and a targeted sub-project on the Gosford LGA, Project 100056, Australian Aquatic Biological 2010.

Gosford LGA Aquatic Survey Reports

Gosford LGA Aquatic Survey Reports

Surveys of the Gosford LGA are completed on a catchment/drainage basis and a total of ten catchment areas were independently surveyed.

1 Wamberal Lagoon

2 Terrigal Lagoon

3 Avoca Lagoon

4 Cockrone Lagoon and Surrounds

5 Green Point to Kilcare & Bouddi NP – Coastal Streams

6 Erina Creek

7 Narara Creek 100056-7 Completed 67, 77, 78, 86, 87.

8 Point Clare to Mullet Creek

9 Mooney Mooney Creek

10 Mangrove Creek to Wisemans Ferry

This was a two year project that discovered much new information The primary aim of Project No. 100056 is to determine what freshwater crayfish occur where in the Gosford LGA. Primarily freshwater crayfish are the priority and the Gosford LGA represents a significant area for crayfish distributions, yet little is known on the distributions of crayfish in this area. Prior to the start of this research project only two species have recorded distributions within the LGA (Euastacus australasiensis and Euastacus spinifer) yet the extent of their distribution are unknown. Additionally, the area includes a number of coastal lagoons, lakes and streams all with independent catchments draining directly to the Tasman Sea that have been isolated from each other for millions of years and many containing unrecorded crayfish species.

Euastacus australasiensis from Narara Creek, NSW

Euastacus australasiensis from Narara Creek, NSW

Euastacus spinifer from Kilcare, NSW

Euastacus spinifer from Kilcare, NSW

The project also records information on all the other aquatic fauna found in the LGA as well as information on landforms and vegetation. All this is in order to facilitate the better conservation and management of the aquatic ecosystems of the Gosford LGA.

Note: For environmental and hygiene reasons (transfer of pests, diseases and weeds, etc.) each of the catchments are treated as individual systems and are surveyed separately with equipment and personnel being sterilized between catchments. A copy of our Hygiene Protocol and Code of Practice is available online at www.aabio.com.au

Gramastacus sp. from Wamberal Lagoon, NSW

Gramastacus sp. from Wamberal Lagoon, NSW

We managed to map the distributions of four freshwater crayfish species that occur in the Gosford LGA. Euastacus australasiensis, Euastacus spinifer, Cherax destructor and Gramastacus sp.

Cherax destructor from Mooney Mooney Creek, NSW

Cherax destructor from Mooney Mooney Creek, NSW

Photographing Euastacus hystricosus

The upper Brisbane River

The upper Brisbane River

Euastacus hystricosus is Queensland’s largest giant spiny crayfish species. It is a crayfish covered in numerous sharp spines that grows to a huge size. Found in the upper reaches of the Mary and Brisbane rivers, the ACP has been researching this amazing species.

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Euastacus robertsi, Mount Finnigan, Queensland

Euastacus robertsi blends in perfectly with the rainforest.

Euastacus robertsi blends in perfectly with the rainforest.

This is Australia’s most northern Euastacus species from the high altitude rainforests in very remote locations of far north Queensland. It is an intermediate group crayfish that prefers the clear flowing mountain streams draining the rainforests in these remote streams. In the 2011 Qld Survey season we managed an assault on Mt Finnigan.

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Surveying NSW’s rarest Spiny Crayfish Euastacus dharawalus.

Euastacus dharawalus is NSW’s rarest spiny crayfish species and in 2006 the Australian Crayfish Project identified an additional threat of significance to this species. Euastacus dharawalus is only found in one small stream (Wildes Meadow Creek) roughly 11 km long above Fitzroy Falls. The Falls is an 80 m straight drop and we surmise that E. dharawalus is just a remnant population isolated from all the other species in the surrounding area by the barrier of the falls.

Euastacus dharawalus

The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish Euastacus dharawalus

A water supply reservoir was constructed on this small creek as part of the supply of drinking water to Sydney. This huge reservoir on the tiny creek has significantly altered the hydrology of the area and impacted on the states rarest spiny crayfish. Now, to exasperate the problem an invasive crayfish species The Yabby Cherax destructor has been introduced to the area and it has gone forth and multiplied creating an ongoing and growing threat to the endemic Euastacus dharawalus.

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