Euastacus kershawi has a wide range in eastern Victoria, from the coastal drainages near the New South Wales border to about 80km east of Melbourne. (Vic)
Euastacus kershawi have a total body length (including the abdomen) of about 320mm; the carapace may be up to 160mm long. Their body varies in colour but is usually dark green, greenish-brown or greenish blue with yellowish spines on the claws and the abdomen. When startled the claws are raised and outstretched above the head.
Ecology/Way of Life:
This crayfish lives in both major rivers and small streams, with overhanging vegetation. Unlike other members of the family, adults are reported to be most active during the day, in deeper pools where the flow is slow. They are thought to be an opportunistic feeder, eating a wide range of foods when they are available. Individuals often emerge on to banks to feed and will move many meters up the bank away from the water.
What triggers movements onto the bank to forage or dig burrows is unknown, but burrowing activity is greatest in spring and early summer. Males are usually mature at about 100mm long and females start to breed when they are at least 5 years old and 125mm in length. They have an annual breeding cycle, with mating occurring in early September when water temperatures are starting to rise, between 200 and 1200 eggs are produced by each female.
Interaction with Humans/Threats:
There has been concern about the status of Euastacus kershawi for some years. The combination of recreational fishing, changes to stream habitats and clearance of surrounding areas for forestry has been associated with a decline in local populations of this crayfish, resulting in fishery closures in some areas. Fishing is now regulated and the survival of remaining populations depends on conservation action, especially control of water quality and habitat changes.
Jones, D.S. and Morgan, G.J. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian Waters. Reed and Western Australian Museum. 216 pp.
Text and Distribution map by J.R. Merrick. Photograph by G. Mollis.
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