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.
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.
“If bore drains can support these populations, then that is great.”
“The eggs are deposited, usually on a bit of vegetation or sometimes in a yabby hole, and then the male will actually guard them until they hatch, which is probably the secret to their survival in areas like this,” he said.The fish, which are listed as endangered in Queensland and critically endangered internationally, live in colonies and the most interesting aspect of them ecologically is that the males will guard the eggs.
“They are actually a really inquisitive little fish.”
Dr Kerezsy would like to do more surveying on local properties to see if the fish were more widespread, as well as conduct some genetic sampling.
“When you get permanent water in this environment from here west, there is always the possibility that you will find something interesting living in it, because there is not that much of it,” he said.
Bore more than 100 years old
Grazier David Wehl said the artesian bore that supports the habitat for the fish had been flowing since the 1890s.
Most of the bore drains that run from that bore are managed for stock water, but the open bore drain the fish were found in runs into a creek.
While there had been some pressure to pipe the bore drain, Mr Wehl does not want to touch it for now.
“If you grow up west of Winton, where there are not flowing bores like this, then obviously you would see it as a waste,” he said.
“But as far as we’re concerned, it’s always been there and it is doing a lot of good.
“It is not a waste to us.”