Cherax depressus from the Great Sandy National Park, Queensland
Freshwater crayfish are amazing animals that are not restricted to aquatic environments. Paul and I were driving through the Great Sandy National Park, Queensland and we discovered burrows in the grassy verges. Now finding the burrow is one thing, finding the grayfish is another thing all together.
The first step is to get out the spade and start digging. The burrows can go any direction and the trick is to keep following the burrow, so it’s a slow process taking small spadefulls at a time following the burrow down into the depths. The burrows basically ran along the surface at an angle and then went straight down to a chamber. Unfortunately most of the burrows went over the 1.5 metre deep and were beyond our capacity to excavate. Luckily, I have Paul with me and he is fearless with long arms so cramming his hand down into the burrow to feel and grab a snapping annoyed crayfish with your fingers is no worries for him.
We can dig down and reach in up to 1.2 m, then use a yabby pump to suck critters out another 600 mm or so but most of the older burrows are over 2m deep so the critters are beyond our reach without major excavation.
We spent a bit of time attempting to identify relatively new burrow systems that the animal had not had time to dig a deep burrow and we were successful in finally getting critters to identify what they were. The specimens that emerged conformed with the current description for Cherax depressus. We currently have all the Queensland Cherax species under review so this may well change in the future.