MONROE COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) — Researchers have discovered a new species of colorful crayfish in southeastern Ohio.
According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, researchers have been searching for the blue crayfish since 1975. On May 19 an exhibition found a small population of the species in Monroe County.
Officials say it is now Ohio’s most colorful and possibly rarest crayfish.
“[The blue crayfish] is a newly discovered species (monongalensis) within an existing genus (Cambarus),” ODW explained on Facebook. “Most Ohioans who have spent time outdoors will recognize the general form of the crayfish.”
The division says they are currently working to document the total range of blue crayfish throughout the state and determine its conservation status.
Blue crayfish reportedly only live in hillside springs and seeps. The species is especially vulnerable to changes in groundwater conditions.
The Ohio River has long been a barrier to the dispersal of the species group, but officials believe this population crossed into the Ohio area prior to Continental Glaciation and the formation of the Ohio River approximately 2 million years ago.
Blue crayfish and related species have been previously found in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
Ohio has 21 different species of crayfish.