Today I went into the field with a colleague of mine (Kat, who was on Totally Wild yesterday) to help her with her current research project. She’s investigating the ecology of the Lamington spiny crayfish up near Lamington National Park.
A Lamington spiny crayfish (Euastacus sulcatus). This one is animal number 11.
These crayfish can be quite large, and it’s been estimated that they can live for at least twenty years. During Spring almost all of the adult female animals at this particular site were “berried”, meaning they were carrying eggs (that look like little red berries) under their tail. Female crays carry the eggs in this manner until they hatch, then the babies remain under the tail for a bit longer
An adult female Laminton spiny cray. The red “berries” under her curled tail are her eggs.
To track their movements Kat has attached radio transmitters to some large crays, and has been tracking their activity for the last several months. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) some of the transmitters have come off their hosts and are lost in the wilderness. Our aim today was to track them down and retrieve them. We found one. Underneath a very large boulder. The cray must have burrowed behind the boulder, where the transmitter was then dislodged. We can’t figure out how to get that one back without destroying the boulder. Anyone have an endoscope they’d like to lend to us?
Even though we weren’t looking for them, we saw about 8 crays. Generally you just see some white claws sticking out from under a rock.
The first sign of a cray is usually a pair of conspicuous white claws sticking out from under a rock
But we also saw a couple just walking around in rock pools. They seem to stay active all year round, even though the water temperature at these higher elevations can be quite chilly. The water temperature was about 17˚C two weeks ago, and was about 20˚C today. It must be much colder during the Winter thing.
A few months ago I had a run in with a baby cray.
A baby Lamington spiny cray in defense mode. They’re pretty harmless at this size…
They draw you closer with their cuteness and smallness, then POW!
…Or are they?!!??
During January Kat will be intensively tracking her crays, both during the day and at night. I’m hoping to spend some time down there with her, and hopefully we’ll stumble upon some snakes too.