White-clawed crayfish found at last!

 In Culm Community Crayfish, Nature & wildlife, Volunteering

Bruce Payne with crayfishAfter months of searching we have found white-clawed crayfish in the River Culm, between Uffculme and Culmstock. Despite numerous surveys over the spring and summer, we had until now only recorded the non-native invasive American signal crayfish, but last week we were delighted to find this small yet significant population of the native white-clawed crayfish.

While this is great news, this surviving population of white-clawed crayfish remains under threat from signal crayfish in the river nearby. Invasive signal crayfish live both upstream and downstream from the native species. If not controlled, the adjacent populations of signal crayfish will eventually take over and out-compete the native white-clawed crayfish. Crayfish plague, which can be carried by the invasive signal crayfish, can have a catastrophic effect on white-clawed crayfish as they lack immunity.

Our search for the white-clawed crayfish continues as we conduct more surveys over the next month and we hope we’ll find them in greater numbers.

The findings from the 2018 surveys and plans for the future will be discussed at the project’s All about crayfish event on Wednesday 7 November.

In other news, we’ve been out and about raising awareness about the plight of the white-clawed crayfish at river-dipping events and stalls at Uffculme Green Day and Honiton Show. At the River Culm Fair we celebrated all things crayfish, with a pond-dipping game, art and craft activities, and stop-frame crayfish animation!


How you can help the endangered white-clawed crayfish

  • Crayfish plague can be easily spread between sites, for example on wet angling kit, dogs or footwear. Please help stop the spread of crayfish plague – follow the ‘check, clean, dry’ code.
  • Join our team of volunteers, there are still opportunities to take part in our crayfish surveys – email james.maben@devon.gov.uk if you’d like to get involved.



Want to know more about our crayfish project?

Communications Officer, Clare, in signal crayfish costume at Honiton Show 2018

Read about our Culm Community Crayfish project.

Read Sarah Marsh’s blog – giving her perspective as volunteer project assistant

Read Lara Drew’s blog – Lara joined the project for a work experience placement

Come along to our All about crayfish event on Wednesday 7 November at the Blackdown Healthy Living Centre in Hemyock.

Crayfish survey using refuge trap

Crayfish survey using refuge trap

River Culm Fair – pond dipping game

River Culm Fair – pond dipping game

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