Rare fish populations rise

The University of Adelaide reports two threatened native fish populations are increasing locally. Photo: File.
The University of Adelaide reports two threatened native fish populations are increasing locally. Photo: File.

LOWER LAKES – The University of Adelaide is happy to report that two threatened native fish populations are increasing.

Studies in Lakes Alexandrina and Albert have revealed numbers of Murray hardyhead and southern pygmy perch are up.

​Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) spokesperson Adrienne Rumbelow said the study results meant the riverine environment was getting healthier. 

“The increased numbers and distribution of Murray hardyhead and southern pygmy perch shows that the Lower Lakes riverine environment is slowly rehabilitating since the devastating Millennium Drought,” Ms Rumbelow said.

“Thanks to environmental watering and last year’s high flow event we are seeing many ecological improvements across the Lower Lakes as well as the Coorong and Murray Mouth.”

She said the fish may be small, but were an important part of the ecosystem, so it was positive to see numbers rising.

“The extra water and our better understanding of the local environment has seen native fish numbers flourish as well as improvements in the overall biodiversity of the area.”

University of Adelaide threatened fish ecologist Dr Scotte Wedderburn said with more room to live and breed, and a better food supply and shelter through new plants, the fish were beginning to thrive.

“The recent monitoring recorded Murray hardyhead in Boggy Creek on Hindmarsh Island for the first time since the Millennium Drought,” Dr Wedderburn said.

“We also found that the southern pygmy perch has increased numbers at Hunters Creek on Hindmarsh Island, with stable numbers at Black Swamp and Finniss River.”

The fish monitoring is supported by DEWNR and the University of Adelaide. It is part of a program funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s The Living Murray initiative; which is in turn funded by the NSW, Victorian, South Australian, ACT, and federal governments.