- One, two, (grunts).
- [Mark] Oh man, the water's seepin' in.
- Oh, I got one, I got one!
There it is!
There's a famous song that goes
"Country roads take me home, to the place I belong,
and on this adventure we will be following
an old gravel country road
that will hopefully take us to the place
that one very rare creature calls home.
This is West Virginia.
First time I have ever filmed in this state.
Many creatures we can come across.
Now it's just a matter of taking this gravel path
further into the wilderness and then
we'll break trail into the underbrush
and see what we can find.
Are you guys ready?
- [Mark] Let's do it!
- All right, let's go!
Today we are working alongside
Field Herpetologist Tim Brust,
who has spent many summers researching
the various creatures that call this
wild and wonderful state home.
And while he specializes in reptiles and amphibians,
today we are after one incredibly elusive crustacean,
that for now we will simply call the blue crayfish.
This is cool.
We have a little stream system that is
moving right through the middle of the forest.
It's actually a great place to look
for small woodland frogs and salamanders.
Look at this.
Most of the time you imagine crayfish
living in streams and rivers.
However, the species we are searching for today,
is a variety of burrowing crayfish that lives underground.
They can be found in areas known as seeps,
which are defined as a wet place
where ground water reaches the earth's surface
from an underground aquifer.
Similar to the fully aquatic crayfish species,
the burrowing crayfish also hides under rocks,
so it was just a matter of flipping the right one.
So, Tim, this is what's considered seepage.
Here, Mark, take a look at this.
See all this water?
Here just in this low spot?
- [Mark] Yeah.
- This is actually seeping out from the hillsides, right?
- [Tim] Yep.
- So, Tim tells me that this rock right here
is a great example of something we should flip
that may have a crayfish underneath,
and I can see this is all real moist right here.
You see all this water?
It looks like we're just on leaves,
but you peel the leaves back, and you've got water.
So, there could actually be a crayfish under this rock.
Oh, there's a lot of water there.
I guess I just put my hand in there
and see if there's anything in it.
Oh, there's definitely a burrow right there.
Oh, but no crayfish.
All right, let's keep going.
From rock to rock we searched,
gently flipping each one,
and placing it right back in the exact same spot,
so that we did not alter the design of the environment.
- [Mark] Woah what is that?
- [Coyote] That's a huge, slimy salamander!
Oh, and it is slippery.
- [Mark] Got it, got it?
- I got it! Yes!
Wow, that is an enormous slimy salamander!
That's probably the biggest one I have ever seen.
Now, they're called slimy salamanders because
they excrete a slime from their skin
that's almost like a a slug, it is very, very sticky.
Let me turn you like this.
Are you gonna stay up on my fingers there?
That is a giant salamander!
Much bigger than the salamanders that we catch in Ohio.
Look at that cool patterning.
Almost looks like the spots of a spotted salamander.
Now this is a lungless salamander species,
they actually breathe through their skin.
So, I don't wanna handle it for too long,
you can see I'm trying not to actually handle it
like grasp onto it,
because I don't want to take moisture from its skin.
But, just handling it a tiny bit
and my fingers are extremely sticky.
Now, one cool thing about salamanders
is that they can actually, well, most varieties,
can detach their tails.
It's called caudal autonomy,
the same thing that lizards are capable of doing
and that helps them escape from predators,
and then that tail will rejuvenate itself.
What a great find!
It's not a blue crayfish but,
still pretty cool to get this salamander
up close for the cameras.
I'm gonna dip it in water, place it back under the rock,
and we'll keep searchin', sound good?
- [Mark] Great start!
- All right, here we go!
Here, come here and check this out.
Oh, come on!
Oh, I got one!
- [Mark] Do you?
- I got one.
But it's not blue.
It's a crayfish but its not blue.
- [Mark] Okay let's squat down and take a look.
- Oh, he's rearin' up with those claws!
Look at that.
Oh, man, every time!
Yep, he's just holdin' on with those pinchers,
ooh, the next pincher's about to pinch me too.
All right, little buddy.
I appreciate that.
Can you uh, call ahead to some of your cousins who are blue?
That's what we're really lookin' for.
I knew I was gonna get pinched.
Man, that is one cool little crustacean though.
A little fossorial crayfish.
All right, back under the rock with this crayfish.
We're gonna continue searching.
You can flip rocks for hours and come across nothing.
But that's what makes it fun,
because there's always going to be another rock,
and all it takes is flipping the right rock
to uncover a jewel of the wilderness.
I'm telling you guys, you are not gonna believe
how blue this little animal is until you actually see it.
Actually this rock right here,
before we walk past it, looks perfect.
- [Tim] That's a huge rock.
- [Mark] I think you can do it, Muscles, come on!
- Oh, man.
I don't think can do this.
- [Mark] You've been hittin' the gym.
- I don't think I can lift that one.
- [Mark] That's a two-hander.
- That's a weird beetle.
Let me just see it and see if its possible.
- [Mark] Oh yeah.
- Yeah, that's gonna be a whopper.
- [Mark] Do it!
- That's a big rock right there!
All right here we go, I'm gonna lift it, you ready?
One, two, three. (grunts)
Oh, I got one, I got one!
There it is!
- [Mark] Woah!
- That is a blue crayfish!
- [Mark] I told you it would it would get better rock.
- Heavy rock, and it paid off with a blue crayfish.
Look at that thing!
Okay, I'm gonna leave this rock positioned just like this.
- [Mark] Okay let's come over here.
- Let's back up to the trail.
- [Mark] Yeah, this is good, this is good.
- Look at that!
Can you believe how blue that crayfish is?
Hold on. I'm gonna turn it like this
and kinda hold it by its tail.
There it is, the sapphire of the West Virginia hillsides.
It is so blue, I can't believe it.
It is as blue as the sky is.
Look at that crustacean.
That must be the coolest looking crayfish I have ever seen.
Now, this is a species that is subterranean.
Which means that they have burrows that can go down
as deep as eight feet under the ground,
and they will come up into those little pools of water
underneath the rocks to search for food.
These crayfish do not grow to be very large.
This is about average size and it is a female,
and the way that I can tell that
is by looking at its underside.
It does not have these little kind of grappling legs
underneath there where, if it was a male,
would be used to grasp on to a female,
and I can also tell that this one has a regenerated claw.
If you didn't know this, most crustaceans,
especially crayfish are capable of losing claws
and then they regenerate them.
So, this claw right here is a little bit smaller
than that claw, so at some point,
a predator likely tried to eat it,
it dropped its claw and then it managed to escape,
and now that claw is growing back.
- [Mark] So I heard that these crayfish,
they can actually drown in water.
So if you found one of these,
you wouldn't wanna release it in the stream.
- No, they go in water, their burrows oftentimes
are filled with water, but they have to keep
coming to the surface to breathe.
Now, they do have gills, just like aquatic crayfish
but those gills allow them to breathe air,
so you may be wondering to yourself,
"Coyote, don't you need to put this thing
"back into the water?
"Is it gonna suffocate by being out in the open air?"
No, not at all.
This crayfish is breathing right now.
- [Mark] So, Coyote, we actually need to get some data
while we're out here, correct?
- That's right.
It is possible that this is a new sub-species
of this crayfish.
There are two recognized species and it is possible
that this one could be a third.
So what we're gonna do is take
some really detailed photographs,
and mark the GPS coordinates, and you never know,
this may be a completely newly discovered crayfish.
How cool would that be?
- That would be awesome.
Do you think they'll let us name it?
- Ooh, maybe, and if we were able to name it
I would call it the sapphire crayfish
because in my opinion, this is a lost jewel
here in the hillsides of West Virginia.
Coyote Pack, what do you guys think?
The sapphire crayfish?
I like it.
Well I would say it was a pretty epic adventure today.
We flipped over many rocks.
We found salamanders.
We found a brown crayfish,
and then of course the last, largest rock,
revealed to us this little blue beauty.
I'm Coyote Peterson, be brave, stay wild,
we'll see you on the next adventure.
The blue crayfish is one of the most uniquely colored
animals we have ever come across.
Its elusive nature and subterranean dwelling
made it difficult to find.
But in the end, the long search was completely worth it.
As of the release of this episode,
this sub-species of crayfish has officially
been classified as a new discovery,
and is in the process of being described by scientists.
And, when it comes to the common name
officially becoming the sapphire crayfish,
well, that's still up for debate,
and we are told there's a chance it may actually happen.
So, I'll continue to keep my fingers crossed.
If you thought a brilliant blue crayfish was incredible,
make sure to go back and check out another
brightly colored creature
of the West Virginia mountainsides,
the cave salamander.
And don't forget, subscribe,
so you can join me and the crew
on this season of Breaking Trail.