A new invasive species has been discovered in Canada, but despite it being localized one area at this time there is concern over its ability to spread beyond.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says marbled crayfish, were found in a Burlington, Ontario pond.
It's an all female species which has the ability to create a genetically identical clone of itself without the need for sperm or a fertilized egg.
Meaning, a new population could be established quickly through the release of a single crayfish.
But that isn't the only concern officials have over its appearance.
Their generalist diets can lead them to over consuming aquatic vegetation and other species living in waterways, including fish and frog eggs.
Additionally, there is concern they could replace native crayfish which are already being negatively impacted in parts of Ontario by the invasive rusty crayfish.
Marbled crayfish can be identified by several markings:
- A medium-sized crayfish is 3 to 10 cm in length.
- Body can be dark brown, tan, brown-green or sometimes blue, always with marble patterning.
- Juveniles develop spotted pigmentation and possess more marble patterning in adolescence.
- Between the legs under the crayfish there is a sperm receptacle, known as the annulus ventralis. It is a flat and bell-shaped structure that can differentiate marbled crayfish from other species.
The species was first discovered in Germany in the mid 90's after it was believed to have been accidentally created within aquariums.
In Ontario, they are illegal to import, possess, deposit, release, transport, breed/grow, buy, sell, lease or trade.
Despite being an aquarium species, they can survive in many different environments, which has aided its spread to spread to nine other European countries as well as Madagascar and Japan.