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Invasive crayfish found in Brownsville area

UT Rio Grande Valley researchers found Australian redclaw crayfish in an apartment complex pond earlier this year.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Researchers and biologists discovered invasive Australian redclaw crayfish in Texas waters, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) announced Friday.

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley researchers first found three specimens at a Brownsville area apartment complex pond in January and February. A TPWD aquatic biologist then found three more in July, this time between the original pond and a river channel known as a resaca, located two miles away.

TPWD said that despite these recent sightings, the invasive crayfish are not new to the area. Back in 2013, social network iNaturalist spotted a female Australian redclaw cayfish with several young.

The Texas discoveries are "the second detection of this species in the wild in the United States with the other being in California," TPWD said in a release Friday.

“We don’t know when these invasive crayfish were first introduced or how far they have spread, but we do know they can have a negative effect on local species and biodiversity,” said Archis Grubh, who found the crayfish between the pond and resaca. “Spreading the word about this invasive species and reporting sightings to TPWD can help us better understand where it is distributed and potentially take steps to help prevent its spread.”

TPWD expressed concern for possible reproduction, as scientists have found both male and female invasive crayfish. Females can produce 1,000-egg clutches up to five times a year.

Australian reclaw crayfish also grow quickly and can weigh up to two pounds maximum. They can carry diseases and parasites such as crayfish plague, and they can "impact native fish communities by direct predation," according to TPWD.

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