Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 19, 2023


Ragan Whitlock, (727) 426-3653,

Miami Cave Crayfish to Receive Endangered Species Act Protections

Crayfish Threatened by Saltwater Intrusion, Worsening Water Quality

MIAMI— Following a legal victory by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to list the Miami cave crayfish as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The agency also announced its intent to propose protections for the crayfish’s critical habitat.

The extremely rare crayfish is found only in southern and central Miami-Dade County, Florida.

“I’m thrilled the Miami cave crayfish is on its way to getting these long-awaited protections,” said Ragan Whitlock, a Florida-based attorney at the Center. “Degraded water quality and sea-level rise are major threats to the survival of this species. It’s crucial for the Wildlife Service to remain firmly committed to protecting this little cave-dweller’s remaining habitat.”

The Miami cave crayfish is a relatively small, freshwater, subterranean crayfish that is found only in large holes, cavities and caves along the Atlantic Coastal Ridge. It is an opportunistic omnivore, primarily consuming surficial detritus that filters down through the porous limestone into its aquifer habitat.

In its federal notice, the Service emphasized that the main threats affecting the Miami cave crayfish are related to shifts in climate largely driven by increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Saltwater intrusion into the crayfish’s freshwater habitat driven by sea-level rise and increasing intensity of storm events will continue to impact the species’ remaining habitat into the foreseeable future.

Protecting a species as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act leads to science-based measures tailored to prevent its extinction. The Act has been successful in saving more than 99% of species placed under its care, despite significant underfunding of the law’s vital measures.

Species with federally protected critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be moving toward recovery than species without it. Federal agencies that fund or permit projects in critical habitat must consult with the Service to ensure habitat is not harmed.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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