The Antwerp cemetery, in Belgium, was invaded by a mutant species of crabs that experts say represents a danger to local biodiversity.
According to The Brussels Times portal, in the 90s, German pet traders created this new species from the marbled crayfish (Procambarus virginalis).
The Flemish Institute for Nature and Forest Research (INBO for its acronym in Dutch) explained that the crustaceans have been found in ponds and streams near the cemetery.
This species of crayfish has a special characteristic, parthenogenesis, which means that it can reproduce without mating, and all the offspring are female and genetically identical.
“Apparently someone had the animal in their aquarium and then set it free in a canal,” said Kevin Scheers of INBO. “It is impossible to gather them all. It’s like trying to empty the ocean with a thimble ”.
Because a single specimen can clone itself and reproduce exponentially, this poses a threat to the local environment.
The crayfish is known to eat anything available and is capable of traveling two kilometers and digging up to a meter deep.
Until now there is no easy way to eliminate the growing population of this mutant species.
According to INBO, some experiments with poison were carried out in Spain, however this is not allowed in Belgium.
Due to the rapid growth in its population, the European Union introduced in 2014 a total ban on the “possession, trade, transport, production and release” of this species in the wild.