Feb 102015
 

This meeting we'll have two guest speakers who have traveled the state in search of creatures that swim. Both presentations will be an excellent lead up to the Forest Lake Pest Fishing Day on February 21.

Glynn Aland will give us a talk about the feral fish that are invading our waterways. Glynn has worked in a variety of roles with Fisheries Queensland and Seqwater and has conducted fish surveys all around the state.

Glynn Aland at Weary Bay

Gavin Brown will present some turtles from around Australia and take us on a tour of all sorts of turtle habitat. Gavin is a member of Australian Freshwater Turtles (AFT - a non-profit organisation) and has a wealth of experience with keeping turtles and observing them in the wild.

Rare Fraser Island Broad-shelled Turtle, from one of Gavin's expeditions.

The drinks stand and the shop will be open for books and aquarium supplies, and there'll be an auction where members can sell fish, plants, and other aquarium related items. Guests are welcome to come and have a look, you can join up on the night if you're interested.

ANGFA Qld Meetings are held on the second Friday of every other month (even numbers) at the Bar Jai Community Hall, Clayfield, starting 7:30 pm.

Sep 162014
 

Original story at ABC News

Three-quarters of the trash found off Australian beaches is plastic, a new study says, warning that the rubbish is entangling and being swallowed by wildlife.
Litter impacts wildlife through entanglement and ingestion, with 43 per cent of seabirds from study discovered with plastic in their gut.

Litter impacts wildlife through entanglement and ingestion, with 43 per cent of seabirds from study discovered with plastic in their gut.

Researchers surveyed the vast Australian coastline at intervals of about 100 kilometres, compiling the world's largest collection of marine debris data, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said.

"We found about three-quarters of the rubbish along the coast is plastic," CSIRO scientist Denise Hardesty said.

"Most is from Australian sources, not the high seas, with debris concentrated near cities."

The report, part of a three-year marine debris research and education program developed by Earthwatch Australia with CSIRO and energy group Shell, found there were two main drivers of the pollution - littering and illegal dumping.

Rubbish found included glass and plastic bottles, cans, bags, balloons, pieces of rubber, metal and fibreglass, as well as fishing gear and other items lost or discarded in or near the sea.

The report said this marine debris not only posed a navigation hazard but could smother coral reefs, transport invasive species, harm tourism and kill and injure wildlife.

It warned that litter impacted wildlife through entanglement and ingestion, but also indirectly via the chemicals it introduced into marine ecosystems.

Smaller turtle species in particular ingested the debris, possibly because soft, clear plastic resembled its natural prey jellyfish. Continue reading »

Sep 112014
 

Original story by Chrissy Arthur, ABC News

A thriving population of a small endangered fish has been discovered on a drought-affected outback Queensland cattle station.
Edgbaston goby eggs with their dad. Photo: Dr Adam Kerezsy

Edgbaston goby eggs with their dad. Photo: Dr Adam Kerezsy

The Edgbaston goby (Chlamydogobius squamigenus) was only known to live in natural artesian springs on Edgbaston Reserve near Aramac, north-east of Longreach.

But fish have now been discovered in a man-made artesian bore drain 40 kilometres away at the Ravenswood Station at Aramac.

Freshwater ecologist Dr Adam Kerezsy stumbled across the rarity when surveying local waters.

The fish do not swim very well, so Dr Kerezsy believed they arrived in a flood.

"It is endangered for a reason, and that's because it has got such a limited range," he said.

"It is just really handy to know that you've got a viable population here, as well as up there, because eventually you want to get all these things off an endangered list.  Continue reading »

Aug 292014
 

Original story by Renee Cluff, ABC News

A species of turtle native to the tip of Queensland's Cape York, the Jardine River turtle, has been officially sighted for the first time in 25 years.
Jardine River Turtle or painted turtle found in Cape York. Indigenous rangers and scientists have trapped 24 Jardine River turtles, which were last documented in 1989. Photo: Rick Gardiner

Jardine River Turtle or painted turtle found in Cape York. Indigenous rangers and scientists have trapped 24 Jardine River turtles, which were last documented in 1989. Photo: Rick Gardiner

It was thought the turtle may have been extinct, even though Indigenous locals had unofficially reported some sightings.

But Apudthama rangers and scientists from Origin Energy have trapped 24 Jardine River turtles, which were last documented in 1989.

Peta Standley from the Cape York Natural Resource Management Board said the turtles were found this week in two locations.

"They're a range of sizes and a range of sexes as well, so now the next thing is trying to get some tracking devices on them and work out where they're actually going to, because they think they're nesting at the moment," she said.

Indigenous head ranger Warren Strevens, who was involved in the rediscovery of the rare turtles in the region, said the reptiles were also known as painted turtles.

"They're striking to look at," he said.

"They're a slender turtle, on the side of their heads, especially around the cheek area they've got a bright yellow stripe.

"Then as you go under the throat and down the neck, they've got a red stripe there, and all over their chest plate is a crimson red that's almost fluorescent.

"There's no doubt they're a cute animal."

He said the finds were especially significant for local Aboriginal people.

"They're definitely sacred to one of the clan groups here," he said.

"They've got a storyline about that turtle as well, so there's a lot of significance in this find for the local region."

He said the finds were especially significant for local Aboriginal people.

"They're definitely sacred to one of the clan groups here," he said.

"They've got a storyline about that turtle as well, so there's a lot of significance in this find for the local region."

Aug 232014
 

Original story by Charlotte King, ABC News

A small native fish with a low community profile is finally getting a name for itself in the Murray Darling Basin.
Koorlong Primary School students Ebony and Charlise were involved in some of the ideas that went into the book, aimed at increasing the profile of the Murray Hardyhead Photo: Charlotte King - ABC Local

Koorlong Primary School students Ebony and Charlise were involved in some of the ideas that went into the book, aimed at increasing the profile of the Murray Hardyhead Photo: Charlotte King - ABC Local

The Murray Hardyhead is a shiny, small-bodied fish with large silvery eyes.

"They only grow to about 10cm in size, and they were found locally and up and down the Murrumbidgee historically," says Michelle Kavanagh, the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre's communication advisor.

"But they've become much more rare, to the point where they've been threatened with extinction."

The fish prefer to live around the edges of lakes, in wetlands and backwaters; but recently the Murray Hardyhead has had a tough time staying alive.

As wetlands dried up with the millennium drought and salinity in remaining waters increased, whole populations of the fish have become extinct in much of Victoria and NSW.

"We got to the stage where they were only found in six or seven isolated wetlands - that was it," says Ms Kavanagh.

"There was a couple of handfuls of populations left in the basin."

Drawing in the community

As many of the remaining populations were in waterways around Mildura, including Cardross Lakes, Koorlong Lake and Lake Hawthorn, the MDFRC went about drawing those communities into a project to help conserve the fish.

The best way to do this, says Ms Kavanagh, was through the local primary schools.

"They're small schools in a rural environment, and these are small wetlands, or small fish in an isolated environment," she says.

"So we were able to make that connection, and start talking about the habitat the fish requires and what decisions and actions communities can make so that the fish has a chance."

Ms Kavanagh says that unlike the Murray Cod, the community profile of the Murray Hardyhead is pretty low.

"They're not iconic, they're not big and easy to identify; they're not targeted by anglers."

"[But] when you're involved in ecology their relevance in the food web becomes really obvious - they are fish food for bigger fish, and they also have close relationships with water plants and water bugs."

So she decided the best way to get the community interested was through the creation of a children's book:Hi! My name is Murray: Murray Hardyhead.

"We write these reports, we put the information on our website, and it's not particularly engaging for the general community," says Ms Kavanagh.

"Targeting primary schools we felt that through the students we'd be reaching families as well."

A real life example

The book was created over a term alongside school activities to help students understand conservation, native fish and threatened species in the Basin.

Students were asked to reflect on what they were learning by putting together artwork that ultimately inspired the book's design and text.

The principal at Koorlong Primary School, Stuart Pain, says the students embraced the project.

"We thought we'd make it a whole-school activity and went down and did some fish sampling and checked the quality of the water," he says.

"[Between] 80-90 per cent of the kids did not know they had Koorlong Lake out the back of the school - or they had fish in them."

"It was a real life example," says Mr Pain.

He says next week the school will revisit the Koorlong Lake to check on their efforts to repopulate the area with Murray Hardyhead fishlings.

"So hopefully, they've survived," says Mr Pain.

Twelve-year-old Ebony Douglass says even though the Murray Hardyhead is a little fish, it deserves to be conserved.

"It was a big project for just a small little fish," she says.

"[But] anything that's endangered is important to help keep alive."

The book has now been distributed to other schools where the Murray Hardyhead lives and across selected primary schools and libraries around Australia.

Aug 192014
 

Original story at ABC News

The critically endangered western trout minnow has been bred in captivity for the first time, in a program that is hoped will help shore up the population.

The western trout minnow was the first freshwater fish species in Australia to be listed as critically endangered. Photo: Department of Fisheries WA

The western trout minnow was the first freshwater fish species in Australia to be listed as critically endangered. Photo: Department of Fisheries WA

The western trout minnow is so rare it is only found in three small rivers in WA's Great Southern region.

It was the first freshwater fish species in Australia to be listed as critically endangered.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and the Department of Fisheries have managed to breed the fish in a laboratory, and hope to restock the rivers in a couple of years.

Principal research scientist Dr Craig Lawrence said there is also a team examining the reasons why the fish are becoming extinct.

"They are specifically looking at the reasons why several rare species in WA have got very low numbers in the wild," he said.

"Once those factors are identified, we will put together a strategy to address them and it's only then that we would look at restocking."

Dr Craig Lawrence has bred the rare minnow in captivity for the first time. Photo: ABC News/Anna Vidot

Dr Craig Lawrence has bred the rare minnow in captivity for the first time. Photo: ABC News/Anna Vidot

In 2006 it was estimated that between 2,000 and 5,000 minnows remained in the wild.

Dr Lawrence said researchers had to break new ground in figuring out how to breed the fish.

"We had to work out how to keep them, feed them, breed them, incubate the eggs, raise the embryos, hatch the larva out, and rear them up to fry," he said.

"They need specific cues to breed. They need the right flow rate, the right temperature, the right barometric pressure."

He said weirs and dams on water bodies changed the way the rivers flow, which affected the fish's breeding in the wild.

In one case, researchers built a "fish ladder" to help the animals get around the barriers, and this may need to be installed in other areas too, Dr Lawrence said.

Western trout minnow embryos. Photo: Department of Fisheries WA

Western trout minnow embryos. Photo: Department of Fisheries WA

The fish's size was also a factor in breeding it in captivity, he said.

"When we're talking about these fish, we're scaling everything down to 1:1000 of what we would usually use," he said.

"The accuracy of the injections and anaesthesia we use have to be very rigorous and there's very little room for error.

"No-one else has used these techniques before for a fish of this size."

The research has been carried out over five years, but the fish only breed four weeks out of the year, Dr Lawrence said.

Jul 302014
 

The next ANGFA Queensland meeting is on Friday, August 8 at 7:30.

Facebook event here

David Roberts with a sizable lungfish.

David Roberts with a sizable lungfish.

This meeting we'll have a presentation from David Roberts of Seqwater with an update on the latest lungfish research and management work he's been involved with.

We'll also have a slide show from our secretary who recently had the opportunity to visit Edgbaston Reserve with a crew from Bush Heritage Australia.

Group at Edgbaston Reserve

Group at Edgbaston Reserve

If you’re not a member please feel free to come and have a look, you can join on the night if you're interested. The club shop with dry goods, supplies, new photo tanks and hopefully new nets will be open, as will the drinks stand. There’ll be an auction after the talks where anyone can buy, though you must be a member to register as a seller.

The next ANGFA Qld meeting is at the Bar Jai hall – 178 Alexandra Road, Clayfield. Friday night 9/8/2013 starting at 7:30 pm sharp!

The next ANGFA Qld meeting is at the Bar Jai hall – 178 Alexandra Road, Clayfield. Friday night 8/8/2014 starting at 7:30 pm sharp!