The blue crayfish has just been confirmed for the first time in Ohio.
The Buckeye state is home to many different forms of wildlife. Just when most Ohio residents thought they knew every species of critter living in the state, biologists find a new resident who has likely been hiding under everyone's noses.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife announced in a press release online that the blue crawfish (Cambarus monongalensis) was finally confirmed to be living in Ohio on May 19. Researchers had long suspected the crayfish's range extended into Ohio. In fact, researchers had been working on locating this specific species since 1975!
"Researchers will now work to document the total range of the blue crayfish and determine its conservation status within Ohio," the press release reads. "It only lives in hillside springs and seeps and is especially vulnerable to changes in groundwater conditions."
The discovery happened in Monroe County and was the result of a combined expedition led by Laura Hughes and other researchers from West Liberty University, Ohio State University and the MidWest Biodiversity Institute and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The release states that Hughes had been searching for this species in the Buckeye State for several years now.
The release further states that the Ohio population of this crayfish has likely been in the state for at least two million years. The species was likely dispersed there via the Ohio River. It is also found in North Carolina, Tenneseee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Kentucky. In a follow-up post, the Ohio Division of Wildlife clarified things further after many residents responded they had seen these crayfish during their outdoor adventures before.
"This is a newly discovered species (monogalensis) within an existing genus (Cambarus). Most Ohioans who have spent time outdoors will recognize the general form of the crayfish. Ohio has 21 different species of crayfish," the reply states.
Whatever the case may be, it certainly is a colorful crustacean with its blue body and orange-tipped claws. The press release further states that this is also likely the rarest species of crayfish to be found in the state.
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