Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Don't Be Blue ... Unless You Are a Crawfish, Then Blue Is AWESOME!

Almost 9 months ago, I netted about 65 young crawfish from a ditch that flows into a creek that flows into the Waccasassa River here in Levy county.

They were of varying sizes and all, everyone of them, brown.
Just your regular, move along folks, nothing to see here,  normal crawdaddy brown.

I took them into school and we plopped them into a large aquaculture tank that was set up with a pvc and netting structure to give them vertical territory. The netting allows them to spread out so they wouldn't eat each other at every meeting on the tank bottom.

Worked like a charm. 

I had the kids measure and weigh them mostly so they would get some metric practice and to get a feel for some of the more mundane tasks that biologists do.

That was in March.
When we came back after the summer (the crawfish spent the summer in the tank), I expected mass cannibalism since I fed them less often.

But no, the losses were minimal and there were lots of babies crawling around the mesh "reef" inside the tank.

We hauled them out again for a count and measurements.
There were a few less, but they had grown substantially.

Oh, ...and they were blue.

Not totally blue and not every single one, but most had tinges of blue and some were really getting their blue on.

It seemed that each molting resulted in more blue in their exoskeletons.

And the babies were showing blue as inchlings.

Procamarus alleni

Some of them, like this freshly molted beauty have gone full bore blue ... and not just any blue, but BAZINGA BLUE!

The shot above not only shows why there are so many babies in the tank, but it also shows the "normal" color of the crawfish when I dipped them from the ditch.
Nobody was blue then.

My original intent was to cycle these crawfish back to my pond, but now that so many of them are blue, we plan to hang on to them in our Cedar Key Science lab and see what develops.

Below is a short video shot with my cell phone today while we were freshening up the crawfish tank.


Julie Zickefoose said...

Blue is my favorite color. The Antwerp blue on a crustacean, favorite blue of all blues. But what I love even more is the joy in the laughter of your kids in that video.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Antwerp blue? Excuse me. I meant to write "Bazinga blue."

Marilyn Kircus said...

Lovely post. Love looking at and eating those guys. I remember finding blue crawfish sometimes as a youngster in Louisiana. Any clues as to why they are sometimes blue. They all SEEMED happy. :)

robin andrea said...

I had no idea that crawfish could be such a beautiful blue. Fantastic!

R.Powers said...

Bazinga Blue should be on a tube of awesome blue paint Julie. Did you catch that Alicia described the backwards crawfish movement as "twerking"?
Cracked me up.

Apparently blue is normal in Procambrus a. , but I never see it when I'm dipping them out of a ditch or creek.
Makes me wonder if the catfish chow nutrients is a factor. Whatever, they are beautiful.

Once in a while a blue lobster makes the news, so the genes are there in the decapod clan. I'm totally blown a way by these crawbluebies.

Julie Zickefoose said...

I missed the "twerked" comment on first listen, but I get it now. Love it!!

Katherine Edison said...

I like Bazinga Blue Crawfish! Awesome!

Mark P said...

I'm not sure I would have believed in blue crawfish if you hadn't showed them to us. I've seen plenty of crawfish in the creek near where I lived as a kid, but not one of them was blue.

Orlando Mike said...

You might consider raising these for restaurants! I work in a 5 diamond restaurant in Orlando and we occasionally serve blue lobsters from Nova Scotia when they are available. They are crazy expensive. I bet you could get a side gourmet blue crawdad business going and finance some great field trips for the kids.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Orlando Mike, you totally read my mind. My first thought when I saw he had an apparently reproducible result that happened to be gorgeous AND edible was: Make More Blue Crawfish. He even has the brand name. Bazinga Blues. You'd have to display them in a live tank in the restaurant, too, because all crawfish are red when boiled.