My friend Lauren and I had a great Saturday collecting and measuring crayfish. They’re an invasive species in the Santa Monica Mountains, most likely introduced by fishermen. We learned quite a bit about them thanks to the friendly folks from the Mountain Restoration Trust, who host bi-monthly removal events to educate the public about these efforts.
Originally from northern Mexico and southeastern USA, the red swamp crayfish are a hardy species. They thrive in freshwater, but can survive in brackish mucky water sources as well. In times of drought, they can burrow 3-4 feet into the ground in order to reach the water table. They eat nearly everything, including each other. These cannibalistic baddies are causing ecological damage and outcompeting local species here. The crayfish don’t have natural predators in the area, so they’re pretty much the apex species here. We found specimen anywhere between 5 to 13 cm, ranging from bright red to a dark rusty brown.
Here are some photos from our day.
It’s a free event, and I’d personally love to go back with more friends. Nifty activity, great way to reconnect with nature’s beauties and absolutely a good memories. So if you’re going, hit me up!
In case you were wondering, we didn’t eat these animals. Instead, they’re most likely going to be refrigerated and fed to animals in rehabilitation, like these cute little raccoon below.
Besides, who knows what’s been in that creek? The crayfish might not be the healthiest to eat. On the other hand, we heard that a particular someone used to take these crayfish home, store them in a fresh water tank for a few days and boiled for dinner. So it appears, it’s possible to eat them, but why would you want to?1