MONROE COUNTY, Ohio — The Ohio Division of Wildlife announced the discovery of a new species in Ohio: the blue crayfish, which Ohio researchers have been searching for since 1975.
The colorful crayfish was discovered in eastern Ohio on May 19 during an expedition in Monroe County led by Laura S. Hughes, who has spent years searching for the species in Ohio while conducting a citizen science project.
Hughes and her team found a small population of the species—making it Ohio’s most colorful crayfish and possibly the rarest.
Researchers will now work to document the total number of blue crayfish and determine its conservation status in Ohio. The blue crayfish only lives in hillside springs and seeps and is vulnerable to changes in groundwater conditions.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife said the blue crayfish has been spotted in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. According to wildlife experts, the Ohio River has been a barrier to the dispersal of the blue crayfish, but it appears it crossed into Ohio prior to the Continental Glaciation and formation of the Ohio River approximately 2 million years ago.
The discovery included Dr. Zac Loughman of West Liberty University, Mael Glon and Heather Glon of the Ohio State University, Roger Thoma of the MidWest Biodiversity Institute and Kelly Capuzzi of the Ohio EPA.
A previous version of this story misspelled the name of two researchers, Mael Glon and Heather Glon. It has since been updated.