The crawfish or spiny lobster is a spiky and ornate relative of the common lobster, with incredible long antennae and a powerful finned tail. This species was overfished back in the 1970s and ’80s by both fishermen and divers but in recent years marine conservationists have been thrilled to see their return.
However, Cornwall Wildlife Trust is now calling on divers to show that they care about crawfish by pledging not to catch them through a new national campaign called #HandsOffOurCrawfish
They hope through education to get a high proportion of divers supporting this campaign with the eventual aim to see crawfish better protected in our waters, ensuring a sustainable fishery for the species. Dive schools, dive boats, and dive clubs will be provided with stickers saying ‘no crawfish on this boat’ and the Trust hopes to provide a much needed clear message for the benefit of these creatures.
Crawfish can live to up to 60 years and are very slow growing. They have long antennae which are used to taste the water to help them look for food as they scavenge on the sea bed.
They also communicate by generating a strange creaking sound by rubbing the bases of their antennae against their shell. This sound can travel for long distances and may play a role in attracting mates.
Matt Slater, Marine Awareness officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust describes his first encounter with these creatures.
“We dropped down to the seabed on a rocky reef off Newquay that I have dived many times over the years. Where previously I had never seen any crawfish, on this dive within just a few minutes we found 18 beautiful crawfish”.