The Watauga Riverkeeper Festival is THIS SATURDAY! Come out on July 24, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Community Park in Valle Crucis, N.C.! Enjoy a day of outdoor recreation and a celebration of the river with live music, games, food and if the river is running—a float down the wild and wonderful Watauga River. This week’s river critter:
The Crawdad: A Southern Staple
We all know that people down south love their “crawfish boils”, where crayfish (more colloquially called crawfish or crawdads) are seasoned to delicious tastes and eaten en masse.
But crawdads aren’t just an important staple of a southern diet; even more importantly they are a staple of rivers and their ecology. The largest diversity of crawdads in the world is exhibited right here in the southeastern United States, with over 330 species populating the waters.
Relatives of the lobster, crawdads are freshwater crustaceans of the order Decapoda. This means they have ten legs, one pair of which is a set of large, sharp pincers.
When cooking up some Louisiana crawdads, we might not think about what they eat at their parties. Crawdads generally feed off of small aquatic creatures, living and dead, and plants. This diet provides important ecological processes to keep rivers healthy.
One important note: Crawdads are very sensitive to changes in river health. Most crawdads cannot withstand water pollution of any kind, so it is important to keep the waters fresh for our crustacean friends.