‘Killer shrimp’ found at Cambs reservoir

12:34 09 September 2010

The killer shrimp. Picture: Michal Grabowski.

The killer shrimp. Picture: Michal Grabowski.

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A SPECIES of killer shrimp has been found at Grafham Water.

Dr Ian Hirst sampling for the killer shrimp at Grafham. Picture: Environment Agency

A SPECIES of killer shrimp has been found at Grafham Water.

It is the first time the species - which can kill native species of shrimp and young fish - has been found in Britain.

Called Dikerogammarus villosus, the shrimp were spotted at the reservoir by two keen-eyed anglers and reported to the Environment Agency which put bio-security measures.

Anglian Water, which owns the reservoir, has reassured the public that its water is safe to drink and work is now taking place to determine if the shrimp are getting into the reservoir from another water source.

The shrimp, which kills its prey by biting and shredding them, has already colonised parts of Western Europe, affecting a range of native species and altering the ecology of the habitats it invades.

The Environment Agency believes if the species spreads insects such as damselflies and water boatmen, common sights on British lakes and rivers, could be at risk, with knock-on effects on the species which feed on them.

Dr Geoff Brighty, from the Environment Agency, said: “We are devastated that this shrimp has been found in Britain, and very grateful to the keen-eyed anglers who found it. We are currently establishing the degree of the problem, and whether the shrimp is only in Grafham Water or if it is in nearby lakes and the Great Ouse as well.”

Ciaran Nelson from Anglian Water added: “We have put precautionary biosecurity measures in place around Grafham Water as containing the shrimp is of paramount importance. We are also assisting with investigations to establish if it is already more widespread. Subject to these controls, recreational activities on the reservoir can continue.

“We are asking all water users at Grafham to take the actions asked of them on-site. This includes checking their equipment for shrimp when they leave the water and removing any that they find. They should also ensure their equipment is thoroughly cleaned and dried before it is put into any other water.”

Expert biologists are currently testing water entering and leaving Grafham to see if it contains the shrimp. The results from this will indicate how widespread the problem might be.

The shrimp could have arrived at Grafham in a variety of ways, including boating, angling, fish-stocking or naturally via birds.

INFORMATION: Water users from Grafham wanting more information on the measures they should take can contact Anglian Water on 08457 919155 or via www.anglianwater.co.uk

If you think you have seen an unusual shrimp, please e-mail a photograph to alert_nonnative@ceh.ac.uk for identification.

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