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Polish crayfish once common now become endangered species

Researchers say there is a risk that for future generations of Poles, wild crayfish will be nothing but a distant memory. However, efforts are underway to prevent this scenario and preserve the species in its original habitat for decades to come.

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“The crayfish has served as a bioindicator for water purity. To put it simply – their presence means there’s no chemical pollution present in the water,” Grzegorz Cekus, the Chief Forester at the Siewierz Forest District (southern Poland) said.

“In the right conditions, these crustaceans can prove remarkably long-lived, reaching up to 25 years of age,” the forestier added.

In the Siewierz Forest District there are only 42 known specimens of crayfish, 24 females and 18 males. Spring is the breeding time for these crustaceans. “The females carry eggs attached to the underside of their abdomen. There’s plenty of them – each female should ultimately lay between 150 to 200 and even 300 eggs,” Mr Cekus explained.

After the eggs hatch “they will travel to carefully monitored natural bodies of water where conditions sustain the wild population of this crayfish species,” Paweł Kokoszka from the Silesian Province Landscape Park Complex said. These efforts are necessary to preserve the wild population of these crustaceans.

Marta Korczak, an animal caretaker at the Warsaw Zoo Vivarium said that “our native crayfish is facing immense pressure from competing species, water pollution as well as a dangerous disease known as the crayfish plague”.

“In Poland, the plague arrived along with invasive crayfish species from America, which, unfortunately, proved to be much more resilient to the disease than Poland’s endemic crustaceans,” she added.

Michał Gzowski from the General Directorate of the State Forest Administration emphasised that there are “various educational videos, which makes all this knowledge very accessible.”

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