Malta is currently going through an invasion by different species of crayfish in freshwater habitats around the island. Marine biologist Alan Deidun raised the issue over the weekend, when he shared a photo of a red crayfish at Chadwick Lakes.
“As a result of the intentional release in the wild by irresponsible individuals, the species, along with a number of other closely-related species, is now present throughout the islands and wreaking havoc to freshwater species,” Deidun said. Earlier this summer, Deidun had explained how crayfish feed on freshwater crab, painted frog, nymphs of dragonflies “and lots of other endangered indigenous species”.
“This species has been listed by the EU as one of the most invasive freshwater ones and is calling upon Member States to take action,” Deidun continued. Many people commented on the original post, sharing their experiences of crayfish invasions from around Europe.
“That crab wreaked havoc in Spain,” said one user. “Get rid of it”. “The entire peninsula of Italy is full of them,” another said. “Sometimes they’re even in the middle of the road on the asphalt. If it arrived in Malta, be prepared!”
Some people commented on how, at this point, there are probably already tens of thousands of crayfish in Malta’s freshwater habitats. Trying to find the source, some users pointed their fingers at aquarium hobbyists, who usually buy the crayfish but eventually get rid of it “because it kills and preys on most tropical aquarium fish”. Others, however, said this latest influx was “99% due to the overflowing of underground reservoirs” after the most recent spells of rainfall.
If you want to be a part of the solution, however, there is a silver lining to all of this. Crayfish are absolutely delicious, and in this case, it’s actually recommended to take up the delicacy to help soften the blow of this invasive species.
Seeing as there are thousands of crayfish specimen all over the islands, embarking on actual hunting expeditions will not only prove unsuccessful in actually eradicating them all, but might also have adverse effects on other freshwater species. “Hope no ones come with this idea of catching them to kill out the species, it will never happen,” one comment said. “This crayfish burrows deep, it is not that easy to catch them all out, they breed fast and in quantities”.
In the meantime, however, it seems like people are still being encouraged to get rid of any crayfish they might stumble upon. If you’re not into trying out a new delicacy however (or are worried of any rainwater contamination), other people provided possible solutions, such as collecting them for use as fishing bait.