An endangered species living in the the North Tyne River
The white-clawed crayfish is the only native crayfish species found in the UK. It is found mainly in clean, calcareous, fast-flowing waters but can also be present in lakes and slower flowing water bodies. Crayfish look similar in shape to lobsters, having claws on the front pair of limbs and a segmented abdomen, but are always found in freshwater. White clawed-crayfish live for 8 years and reach a maximum of 12cm in length, they can vary from brown, green and pale in colour.
White-clawed crayfish are declining due to the introduction of non-native crayfish species for crayfish farming mostly in southern England. These other species outcompete the native species and spread ‘crayfish plague’, a fungal disease Aphanomyces astaci fatal to white-clawed crayfish.
The North Tyne, Rede and the Hadrian’s Wall Loughs are the only places that white-clawed crayfish are found in the Tyne catchment. Unfortunately, American signal crayfish have now been found in some of these waterbodies and efforts are being made to conserve our native species the catchment.