Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bull Creek Lobster

Click to enlarge
My nephew came back from the Bull Creek swimming hole with the excited report of a large crawdad "the size of a lobster."  It had been partially eaten, leaving only the head and tail.  By the time he returned to collect it the next morning, it was further chewed up but still identifiable.

This is the Longpincered Crayfish- Orconectes longidigitus, the largest crayfish in Missouri.  It is found in Northern Arkansas and Southwestern Missouri in Table Rock Lake drainages including Bull Creek.  Its body can be over six inches in length, and with its claws it can surpass ten inches long.  The claws on our specimen were missing but the antenna was four inches long.

The MDC page describes its habitat:
"An inhabitant of medium-sized to large, clear Ozark streams with permanent, strong flow and predominantly silt-free substrates. The favored habitat is moderately deep pools along bluffs where rock slabs and large rubble provide crevices for hiding during the daylight hours. At dusk it emerges to forage over the stream bottom.  This species is omnivorous and does not hesitate to capture and consume other crayfish if the opportunity arises."
The pool where it was found is over 60 feet long and up to 6 feet deep.  It has a rock ledge on one side with underwater holes that go back in deep.  We have snorkeled with Midwest Water Snakes which will enter an opening and emerge four feet away from another.

Click to enlarge
Over several days, our family was able to watch two adult and two small water snakes.  The largest is about four feet long, and all are quite comfortable with their surroundings.  Jeremy took pictures from above and then a great head-on shot as one rested in one of the holes in the ledge rock.


No kisses on a water snake- Click to enlarge
You will notice the color resemblance to a copperhead.  The water snake has irregular bands rather that the "Hershey kisses."  It also will spend considerable time under water as it patrols the nooks and crannies of the ledges.  We have seen a copperhead swim across the swimming hole (see below) but it keeps its head up and travels on the surface with a purpose rather than cruising along the edges.


Copperhead- Click to enlarge

It is fun to identify crayfish you find while swimming but it is critical to identify snakes.

For information of all the Missouri Crayfish, go to mdc.mo.gov.




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