Alex Cripps – Conservation Graduate Trainee
A couple of days ago Simon, Emily, Sam and I carried out an emergency crayfish rescue on the River Rye.
The Rye and the Upper Derwent (which both rise in the North York Moors) are two of only a few rivers in the North East of England which still support a population of the globally threatened White-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes).
White-clawed crayfish are incredibly important as they are the only native crayfish in the UK, but unfortunately populations are declining due to competition by introduced crayfish species, crayfish plague and pollution.
The recent sustained period of dry hot weather had caused crayfish and fish to become stranded in small pools as the river dried up. Working under a Natural England licence we managed to collect the stranded crayfish and a number of small fish and move them upstream, using buckets and a small car, to a safer haven above the limestone swallow holes.
Along with the Environment Agency we will be continuing to monitor the river levels over the summer and will be ready to leap back into action if further rescues are required.
We recorded a quick film of a White-clawed crayfish that we’d just released (click on the image above). Look out for the juvenile crayfish in the top left corner about half way through – you can also see a small Bullhead darting about too!