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.

Aug 042014
 

By Christopher Brown at The Conversation

Tighter bag limits for fishing could be the key to ocean conservation, according to new research showing that limiting fishing across entire regions can offer better protection than using marine reserves.
Fishing of potato rock cod is totally banned in Queensland waters. Better regulation might avoid similar bans for other species. Photo: Mark Priest

Fishing of potato rock cod is totally banned in Queensland waters. Better regulation might avoid similar bans for other species. Photo: Mark Priest

Continue reading »

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!

Jul 292014
 

Date: Sunday 24 August 2014

Warrill Creek above Churchbank Wier. Photo: Sweetwater Fishing

Warrill Creek above Churchbank Wier. Photo: Sweetwater Fishing

Species we might locate:

* Melanotaenia duboulayi (Crimson Spotted Rainbowfish)

* Pseudomugil signifer (Pacific Blue-eyes)

* Retropinna semoni (Smelt)

* Hypseleotris galii (Firetail Gudgeon)

* Ambassis sp. (Glassfish)

* A range of invertebrates

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Field trip details are restricted to ANGFA Qld members.

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If you are a member please contact us so we can fix your account.

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Click here to log in or register.

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Meeting Location:

Meet in the car park behind the IGA at Walloon (on the roundabout, opposite the Walloon Hotel)

Getting to Walloon:

From Brisbane, take the Warrego Highway towards Toowoomba.

Take the turnoff to Walloon/Rosewood (just past Blacksoil) which puts you on the Haigslea-Amberley Road. Head south (left) for 3km to reach Walloon.

Departure Time:

8.30 am. This is the time we will leave the meeting point.

Program:

This program is tentative only and may change due to weather and water levels

0830 – 0900: Travel to first fishing location.
0900 – 1230: Fish Churchbank Weir on Warrill Creek and Seven Mile Bridge on Bremer River
1230 – 1300: Travel to Walloon
1300 – 1400: Lunch at the Walloon pub (buy your own)

CHECK THE ANGFA FORUM THE FRIDAY OR SATURDAY BEFORE THE TRIP TO CONFIRM THAT IT’S STILL ON

Bring:

Wading boots or waders, dip nets, folding bait traps, bait or burley for the traps, buckets (with lids), a field tank for photography, an esky or styrofoam box to hold the fish in, plastic bags for the fish, rubber bands, non- iodised salt (cooking salt, rock salt, etc), drinking water, sunscreen and insect repellent, fish and plant identification books, goggles and snorkel (for the brave), and water test kits if you have them (hardness, total hardness, pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity, etc).

Remember:

We are a conservation society. We are not there to rape and pillage.

Take only as much as you need to display or breed. It is illegal to sell fish from the wild without a licence.

An important part of each field trip is to survey and record the water conditions and what we find, and any assistance with this task will be appreciated.

Size and bag limits and equipment regulations apply when fishing in fresh water in QLD. You can find the QLD bag and size limits here: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/28_2994.htm

You can find the QLD fishing equipment regulations here: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/28_3023.htm

Nomination:

To nominate for the field trip please contact the Field Trip Coordinator: Leo O’Reilly, Mob: 0438 733 789, Email: oreilly1@bluemaxx.com.au[/s2If]

Jul 192014
 

News release from The University of Exeter

The tiny plastic particles polluting our seas are not only orally ingested by marine creatures, but also enter their systems through their gills, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter.
Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Scientists also discovered that when microplastics are drawn in through this method they take over six times longer to leave the body compared with standard digestion.

Lead author Dr Andrew Watts of Biosciences at the University of Exeter said: “Many studies on microplastics only consider ingestion as a route of uptake into animals. The results we have just published stress other routes such as ventilation. We have shown this for crabs, but the same could apply for other crustaceans, molluscs and fish – simply any animal which draws water into a gill-like structure to carry out gas exchange.

“This is highly important from an ecological point of view, as if these plastics are retained longer within the animal there is more chance of them being passed up the food chain.”

The researchers used fluorescently labelled polystyrene microspheres to show how ingested microplastics were retained within the body tissues of the common shore crab, Carcinus maenas. Multiphoton imaging suggested that most microspheres were retained in the foregut after sticking to hair-like ‘setae’ structures within the crabs. Continue reading »

Jul 172014
 

Original story by Jake Sturmer, ABC News

A world-first study has found that dredging can more than double the level of coral disease in reefs.
Joe Pollock researches the impact of dredging on coral. He says his study on the impacts of dredging highlights the pressure reefs face. Photo: Ed Roberts

Joe Pollock researches the impact of dredging on coral. He says his study on the impacts of dredging highlights the pressure reefs face. Photo: Ed Roberts

Scientists have known for decades that dredging can smother corals, but researchers say this is the first time it has been linked to diseases.

With dredging approved in the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the scientists hope their work draws attention to the pressing issues facing the region.

The study by the Australian Research Council’s Coral Reef Studies Centre of Excellence looked at the 7 million cubic metres of dredging done for Chevron’s Gorgon Gas Project off Western Australia’s coast.

“There was a fair bit of dredging going there and this was an ideal opportunity to use this natural experiment to look at the impacts of dredging, sediment and turbidity on coral health,” lead author Joe Pollock said.

“What we’ve found is that you get two times as much coral disease near the dredge sites as you do at nearby control sites.”

Not all diseases are fatal but Mr Pollock said they can have a significant impact on reef health. Continue reading »