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Crayfish Plague Spreads To River Barrow

21st September 2017
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Dead crayfish in the River Suir Dead crayfish in the River Suir Photo: B Nelson/IFI

#Crayfish - Large numbers of dead freshwater crayfish have been reported in the River Barrow in the stretch from Carlow to Graiguemanagh.

It has been confirmed using DNA analysis that the cause of death was crayfish plague.

This is the fifth outbreak of the disease to be found in Ireland in the last two years, and follows just weeks after an outbreak in North Tipperary.

It is feared that if the disease spreads further, then it will threaten the survival of the entire Irish population of white-clawed crayfish, an endangered marine species.

This worrying situation is being investigated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Marine Institute.

All the agencies involved in managing and protecting the rivers in Ireland are concerned that another outbreak has been detected, and are reiterating their advice and guidance to all users of the river to implement routine cleaning and drying of their equipment once they leave the river and before using it again.

This is especially important as it is known that the crayfish plague organism can be carried on wet equipment to new sites. Containment of the outbreak is essential to prevent spread to other as yet unaffected populations in Ireland.

Waterways Ireland, which manages the Barrow navigation, has issued a marine notice calling all recreational, commercial, private and public body water users (boaters, walkers, swimmers, kayakers, rowers, machine operators, etc) to operate a temporary ban on moving watersport and angling equipment and other equipment or machinery that comes in contact with the water, out of or into the Barrow and all affected catchments.

People are also asked to alert the authorities of any mass mortality of crayfish or sightings of unusual crayfish that might be non-native species (such as crayfish with red claws, or of an unusually large size).

MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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