Blind Cave Crayfish!

*Update on my 4000 mile motorcycle trip*
A photographers and biologists worst fear. You find something cool. Really cool. Your miles from anything, and…. nope you don’t have the any good camera equipment to take a single picture that’s even half crappy.  Well I found a really cool troglobite, which means something adapted to living underground. These animals  are really cool, some of my favorite creations of evolution! I was at Leon Sinks, part of the Apalachicola National Forest. This place was AMAZING. loads of collapsed caverns, open mouths to caves, underground rivers, a long history of some really intense cave diving, and some nice hiking. I spent the day exploring the area after a very heavy rain and all the ephemeral pools and holes where filled with water.

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A bit into one of the cave openings, I was poking around the inside and looking for any stray salamanders. Lime Stone caves can provide homes to some very unique species and you never know what might wander in there. To my surprise I was a large totally white crawfish. After looking it up post-visit I’m guessing Procambarus orcinus, the Woodville Karst cave crayfish. They are listed by the IUCN as a threatened species, and are on a wait-list to receive some type of actual endangered species protection from the federal or state government. I believe the US gov has to make a decision one way or the other by 2018. I don’t like to stress any animal in the field more than I have too. If I had known they were a candidate to be listed, I would not have picked it up. So, I don’t recommend anyone else doing this unless you really have a reason too. I dont know a lot about them, I am guessing they are locally very common but only to a very restricted area. These critters have lost all pigmentation and only have very small residual eyes, thus they are effectively blind.

With some patience, I managed to scoop her up (though I got my sweatshirt nice and soaked with chilly water). And yes, it was a her; crawfish are very easy to sex! I am not sure if they are always so near the surface at the mouth of this cave. I am guessing because of the heavy rains, lots of nutrient inputs and subsidy was recently washed in. If only I was a cave diver and I could go see more of them!

Well enjoy some of my lame photos:

The worst photo ever of a truly unique and beautiful animal. I didnt want to bother her too much so I only snapped the two quick photos and gently released her.

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Big tree anyone know what it is?

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Enjoying the ephemeral pools… if only the frogs were breeding when its almost freezing.

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