The Environment Agency is warning everyone using lakes, rivers, ponds and canals across the North West to check, clean and dry their clothes and equipment after every use, after a Demon Shrimp has been found in a Lancashire river for the first time.
Demon Shrimp are an invasive non-native species of shrimp (Dikerogammarus haemobaphes), so called because of their larger size and aggressive behaviour than native shrimp. They attack and eat our native shrimps and insects, disrupting the food chain and change the dynamic of our rivers and lakes.
The demon shrimp was found in the River Douglas at Parbold Bridge, Lancashire - upstream of the Leeds Liverpool Canal which is believed to be where the species originated from.
Kim Owen from the Environment Agency said: “Invasive shrimps such as this species present a major threat to the ecology of our rivers and lakes and we have a real battle on our hands to control their spread.”
“The likelihood is that this species will now be widespread with any links to the Leeds Liverpool canal and beyond through the canal network.
“The Environment Agency are urging everyone who uses England’s waterways to be aware of the problem and help directly in the control of invasive species by adopting and following the “Check, Clean and Dry” approach and thoroughly cleaning and drying any fishing or boating equipment.”
Demon Shrimp is native to South East Europe and was first reported outside its native range in 1955. It has since spread across Western Europe and was first found in the UK in 2012 in the River Severn.
According to a risk assessment produced by Cambridge University, the potential ecological risk from the species is high. They are now a more widespread threat than the invasive Killer Shrimp (Dikerogammarus villosus) and could result in marked ecological change of water bodies, leading to decreased diversity in the invaded range by competing with or preying upon a broad range of invertebrates.
The fear is that some of Britain’s native shrimp are in danger of being completely eradicated from our rivers and lakes.
We should all apply ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ to reduce the risk of introducing and spreading all invasive non-native species.
CHECK: your equipment and clothing for living organisms. Pay particular attention to areas that are damp or hard to inspect.
CLEAN: and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them.
DRY: all equipment and clothing - some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.
Early identification of invasive non-native species could also help to prevent future problems from developing. There are a number of online recording sites such as iRecord where you can submit your record, and smart phone applications such as Aqua Invaders (ideal for recording sightings of Demon Shrimp).