Tue July 16, 2013
Crayfish Turf Wars Of The Northwest
Gumbo and jambalaya may not be at the top of Northwest menus. But if the invasive red swamp crayfish has its way, that could change.
The Red Swamp Crayfish – also known as “crawfish” or “crawdad” – is native to the Southeastern U.S. and the Gulf Coast. But over the past decade this crimson-clawed invasive has moved in on some Northwestern lakes and rivers, and it could be impacting native species of trout and bass.
Ground zero of the invasion? Pine Lake. It’s a small body of water 40-feet deep, about 20 miles east of Seattle. The shores are lined with nice homes. Yellow labs patrol well-maintained yards and docks. Bass and trout fishermen share the water with laughing kids on paddleboards.
But the ecosystem balance of this lake is shifting, says Julian Olden, a freshwater ecologist with the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. Invasive red swamp crayfish now outnumbers the hometown species, known as signal crayfish.