This Is What An Endangered Species Looks Like
During a recent hike at Burgess Falls State Park, I came across this little fellow in the hands of a curious fellow hiker. I talked with the young man for a second, and made sure that this little guy made it safely into my hands. There was something striking about its blue colored claws, so after a bit of searching on the internet it turns out that it is an example of Cambarus pristinus, the pristine crayfish. Although listed by the ICUN Redlist (a list of the world’s endangered and threatened species) as “Data Deficient,” more localized sources say that this is an endangered species. Native to the Caney Fork and other rivers, it is threatened by the silting caused by the cutting down of trees for lumber. When trees are felled near rivers, the soils and sediments that their roots once held are free to wash into waterways, often choking them. Like so many species, its continued survival is dependent on human actions that are seemingly unrelated to its habitat.
Strangely enough, Tennessee is a biodiversity hot-spot for crayfish with 78 species, more than any other state in the country. By random chance, my encounter with this little guy parallels the recent discovery of a new species of crayfish in Tennessee. Idenification was made using the key found here.