Sunday, June 17, 2007


Not everyone here at the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest is upset that it has not rained much over the last two months. For those that eat crayfish (the long list includes Barred Owls, River Otters, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, White Ibis, Great Egrets, Raccoons, Great Blue Herons), the low water is like a dinner bell ringing!

Although crayfish can move out of the water, they need to keep their gills moist. Therefore, they need to remain in or near water most of the time. Without rain upstream to fill the swamp, water cut off from the deepest channels forms pools as the water level continues to drop. Small fish and crayfish are concentrated in these pools and are easy pickin's for the host of predators previously noted. In fact, raccoons act like many people at a lobster bar. We know that the majority of the lobster meat is in the tail and easy to extract, while other meat is secured in smaller crevices throughout the lobster's remaining body. At times like these when crayfish are plentiful and easily caught, raccoons will simply eat the tail and discard the remaining portion of the uneaten crayfish. Like a gruesome crime scene, crayfish body parts litter the boardwalk and fallen logs nearby.

At low-water times like we are currently experiencing, the value of the swamp's namesake holes (deep areas within the swamp) becomes apparent. Life that can move over land or did not get cut off from the main flow of the swamp will congregate in the holes until the water level rises and allows them to again exploit the entire swamp habitat. Now would be a good time to wet a line in the swamp!

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