Excitement as endangered crayfish discovered in Hampshire nature reserve for first time in 30 years

WILDLIFE conservationists were ‘excited’ to discover an endangered crayfish at a Hampshire nature reserve for the first time in more than 30 years.

Thursday, 27th January 2022, 11:29 am
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 11:29 am

Experts found a cluster of rare white-clawed crayfish, which are the only crayfish species native to the UK, at Winnall Moors Nature Reserve in Winchester, that were thought to have died out from the area in 1991 after a deadly plague wiped out local populations.

For decades, conservationists have worked to recover white-clawed crayfish populations as their numbers have declined by about 70 per cent in the UK since the 1970s due to pollution, habitat loss and the introduction of non-native crayfish.

Read More

Read More
Police launch criminal negligence investigation after man, 27, mysteriously dies...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

One of the white-clawed crayfish found at Winnall Moors Nature Reserve © Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Reserves officers and volunteers for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) made the discovery while carrying out routine habitat management.

Rachel Remnant, a reserves officer for the trust who was part of the team who discovered the crayfish, said the team were initially concerned they had found a different type of crayfish – signal crayfish.

She said: ‘I video called my colleague, Dr Ben Rushbrook, who is the principal ecologist at the Trust and our resident crayfish specialist, to show him what we’d found. He sounded excited but hesitant from what he saw, so said he would rush over.’

Once Ben arrived, he confirmed the crustaceans, the largest of which was about the length of a forefinger, were indeed white-clawed crayfish.

White-clawed crayfish (3) © Linda Pitkin_2020VISION

He said: ‘Finding this cluster of white-clawed crayfish is incredibly exciting, especially as we found some juveniles which suggests they are well established at this location.

‘It’s a bit of a mystery whether the crayfish have somehow managed to hang on undetected since the plague outbreak in the early 90s or whether they have since recolonised this stretch of river.’

The trust is currently working on establishing several self-contained across Hampshire to secure the long-term survival of this species.

Rachel added: ‘This discovery was completely unexpected and the whole team has been buzzing about it ever since.

‘Life is tenacious, and this shows wildlife can come back if given the right conditions – it makes all the hard work over the years worth it.

‘Good news stories like this don’t come along too often, so we need to celebrate them when they do.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Subscribe here for unlimited access to all our coverage, including Pompey, for just 26p a day.