CRYSTAL GALAXY: The world’s largest and most productive of the freshwater cichlos, the craye is a crustacean that can grow to almost 30cm in length.
But their growth rates are slowly declining and scientists are now warning that the world’s oceans are becoming more acidic.
The crayefish is one of the most abundant of all freshwater animals and is among the most threatened species in the world, as sea levels rise and coastal cities flood.
Scientists at the University of Southampton and the Natural History Museum have discovered that the species is suffering from a number of stressors including climate change, overfishing and habitat loss.
Crayefish are also known for their large mouths and colourful shells.
Their shells can be used as tools for food gathering, and they are a popular food for other freshwater fish species, including crustaceans, lobsters, and snails.
“They’re like the kings of the deep sea,” said Professor Matthew Burdon, one of lead researchers on the study.
“They’re the largest crustaceas in the ocean.
They’re very productive, but their population has been declining for centuries.
These changes are being exacerbated by climate change.
In the long term, they may be facing extinction.”
The team also found that the shell of the crayshell crayee, which is a member of the phylum Cnidaria, is being eaten by an entirely new species, the Cnidsa.
Professor Burdo added: “These new species are more diverse and more colourful than any cray, and that’s good for us because it means we can study them more closely and better understand their evolutionary history.”
Professor Peter Wills, from the School of Biological Sciences at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, said: “We know that these crayees are quite different to the species we know of from the deep ocean.”
But the team are still unsure what these new species may be eating and the researchers are also looking at whether they can be exploited in the future to help them recover.
Dr Andrew Ritchie from the University’s Marine Science Centre said: ‘It’s the first time we’ve really looked at how marine organisms are responding to changes in water temperature and acidity.’
It’s very important to get the numbers of crayes down to zero before this climate change goes into full effect.’
This is a very important area because the ocean is going to play a huge role in global warming and our ability to survive and thrive.’
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.
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