Researchers in Germany have identified an exquisitely colorful crayfish as a new species and fear that its population is already in a major decline.
Pictures of a new species of crayfish have been likened to looking at a far-off galaxy in outer space heightening the suspicion that traders in the aquarium business might be a factor in their decline.
Researcher Christian Lukhaup is credited with identifying this new freshwater species of crayfish as Cherax pulcher, found in the waters off West Papua, Indonesia.
Lukhaup is quoted as saying:
Finally, after going out to Papua New Guinea myself, I ran tests and found out it was a completely new species.
The males are three to sometimes four inches long with the females being somewhat shorter. With pet shop owners extremely protective of their location, it took over 10 years for Lukhaup to ascertain the location of origin for this new species.
He finally tracked them down to Hoa Creek in West Papua, and immediately discovered that local native tribes were protecting them by force:
Once I'd found some crayfish inside a cave, I turned around and saw them standing there with bows and arrows pointing at me.
Collectors, pollution, and commercial use have combined to affect populations of this colorful crayfish to the point where Lukhaup is hoping that their identification will lead to a conservation management plan that will protect the species.