26 September 2023

Scientists net yabby after 15 years

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The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has announced a new species of freshwater crayfish, known as the Swamp Yabby (pictured) has been formally named and described after 15 years of scientific fieldwork.

Executive Director of the Biodiversity Division at the Department, James Todd said the Swamp Yabby (Cherax latimanus) discovery was a significant biodiversity achievement for scientists from the DELWP as well as the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI) and private research firm, Australian Aquatic Biological.

Mr Todd said it was the first time in 80 years that a new yabby species in the Murray-Darling Basin system had been formally described, making the Swamp Yabby only the third species known to naturally occur in the Basin.

He said the yabby was found in deep clay soil burrows in northern Victoria’s Goulburn, Broken and Ovens River catchments, and as far north as Deniliquin in New South Wales.

“By formally describing the Swamp Yabby, Governments and land managers are able to make the best management decisions, particularly during drought, to ensure its survival into the future,” Mr Todd said.

Senior Scientist from the ARI, Tarmo Raadik said the species looked similar to the Common Yabby (Cherax destructor), but was much larger and had uniquely shaped broad claws.

Dr Raadik said the species was not considered threatened.

“We’d heard rumours from landholders and river-users that there was a different and larger yabby living in the Barmah Forest – little did we know it would take so long to track it down,” Dr Raadick said.

“The first step to conserving biodiversity is discovering and naming new species, as we cannot protect something properly if we don’t know it exists in the environment,” he said.

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