On Patrol With the Crayfish Corps

Earlier this summer, Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah Hullihen who lives in southern New Jersey, volunteered with the Crayfish Corps to help remove invasive rusty crayfish from a stream in Valley Forge National Historical Park (PA). An invasive species is a plant or animal that gets introduced into an area but is not native to it. Over time, the invasive species begin to out-compete native plants or animals for resources. Read about Sarah’s experience below.

“In August, I went to Valley Forge National Historical Park to volunteer for the Crayfish Corps. Back in 2008, the rusty crayfish became an invasive species in Valley Creek, and soon started to dominate over the native crayfish. Rusty crayfish are originally from the Ohio River Basin. The rusty crayfish were harming the native crayfish population very badly. They ate too much of the food that the natives ate, and were also overpopulating the creek. So, to try and solve that problem, the Crayfish Corps has to try and take out rusty crayfish from the creek . The park tries to have one or less rusty crayfish for every four native crayfish in the creek.

The crayfish live under rocks in the creek, so I would lift up a rock and put the net downstream so that the crayfish would move into the net. I then had to identify the crayfish. I learned that the rusty crayfish has rusty-colored spots on its sides and black bands on the claws. After I identified the crayfish, if it was a native, I would count it and put it back in the creek. If it was rusty, it would be put in a bucket. The rusty crayfish would then be frozen and put in the forest to dispose of. In about two hours, our group found about 44 native crayfish and about 10 rusty crayfish. We did find many more native crayfish than rusty crayfish, so that is a really good sign. I had a lot of fun volunteering, so if are ever in Valley Forge National Historical Park, make sure to find out about the Crayfish Corps!

Thanks Sarah for giving back to YOUR local park!