Crayfish/Crawfish Debate: Help a College Kid Get an A+

Yesterday, an email from one Mr. Bill Erickson found its way to my inbox. Bill is a student at the Yavapai College of Arizona, and he was writing looking for help with an assignment. His Aquaculture professor asked the class to turn in a two-page paper by midnight this Sunday defending their opinions about whether there is actually a difference between crayfish, crawfish, and crawdads.

According to Bill, he and others in the class have been "tearing our hair out trying to figure this one out." Now, I told Bill that although I am no Mr. Wizard or Jaque Cousteau, I am pretty sure crayfish is the correct term for all members of the family, and crawfish, crawdad, and mud bug are nothing but regional names given to crays. I've never been to Louisiana and had a "crayfish boil," and I've never seen a tackle shop in the Northeast selling live "crawfish."

I'm calling the professor's bluff! It's a trick question, and there is no biological or physiological difference between a crayfish and a crawfish. I've searched the Net a bit for info, and like Bill and his fellow students, I can't find anything definitive about a difference between the two. But I do not claim to know everything, so I promised Bill I'd open up the floor here at F&S.com and let you guys weigh in. Let's help Mr. Erickson nab an A+ on this one.