Hereford & Worcester

Relative of 'killer shrimp' found in Worcestershire waterways

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Media captionThe non-native shrimp has been found in the River Severn at Tewkesbury and Bevere, near Worcester

A relative of the "killer shrimp" has been found in Worcestershire, the Environment Agency (EA) has said.

The non-native shrimp, Dikerogammarus haemobaphes, has been found in the River Severn at Tewkesbury and Bevere, near Worcester.

The EA said it was the first time the shrimp had been found in the UK and it had also been discovered in two Worcestershire canals.

It said experts were "uncertain at this stage" what its impact might be.

The species was found after samples were taken from the River Severn at the request of Severn Trent Water and experts then identified them.

APEM, an environmental consultancy specialising in water science and ecology, said one of its scientists, Grant Ridley, identified Dikerogammarus haemobaphes in a sample from Severn Trent Water.

The EA said that in Europe, the shrimp "kills and competes with a range of native species" and scavenges and eats plant matter, which "alters the ecology of the habitat".

'High impact species'

Following the initial discovery, the shrimps were then found at the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, spreading over a distance of approximately 23 miles (38km).

The EA said until it had further information it would treat it as a "high impact species" as a precaution.

It said the species was less aggressive than Dikerogammarus villosus, the "killer shrimp", but is a rapid breeder, producing three generations per year, with each female laying 100 or more eggs.

David Throup, environment manager for the Environment Agency, said: "We are concerned that this invasive species has been found in the Midlands.

"We now have a dedicated team whose focus is to establish the degree of the problem and whether the shrimp has spread wider than the locations already found.

"We are treating this as a priority so that we can come up with a plan to help contain its spread as far as possible."

The species originates from the Ponto-Caspian region of eastern Europe around the Black Sea and has invaded western Europe.

APEM said the shrimp was discovered during routine monitoring that it was carrying out for Severn Trent Water.

Mr Ridley said: "This shrimp is typically smaller than its 'Killer' cousin, growing up to about 18mm, but still potentially very damaging to our native water environment."

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