The hunt for Murray crays in South Australia
Planned sampling for Murray crayfish in the South Australian section of the River Murray was brought into the spotlight by ABC Riverland early this week. Murray crayfish were once common throughout the Lower Murray – even forming the basis of a commercial fishery – but numbers declined over the 20th century. There have been no verified records for 30 years and the species is considered ‘virtually’ extinct in South Australia.
So, you might be wondering, why do we think there still might be some in South Australia then?
Firstly, sections of suitable habitat remain (cage trials in the 1990s showed the species could survive for at least a year in some areas); secondly, there have been a number of anecdotal reports over the years; and lastly, why not? They are an elusive species that has not been targeted by recreational fishers or researchers for decades so it is probable that small populations may have gone unnoticed.
We will be out sampling in September and I will let you know how we go!