“Maps are a way of organising wonder”

This quote by Peter Steinhart is spot on when it comes to this stunning map created by fish researcher and artist Dr Brendan Ebner.  NSW DPI Fisheries asked Brendan to create this beautiful map of the Darling-Baaka River.  Flowing rivers and deep pools are essential for healthy populations of Murray cod and Golden perch, and Brendan has drawn the journeys of the Murray cod and Golden perch as they move up and down the river.

Take the time to study the picture to discover more about the Murray cod – who like to stay close to home – and the Golden perch, who explore the river over hundreds to thousands of kilometres.   The more you look, the more you will find, and Brendan has provided a key to tell you about the life cycle stage you are observing in the picture.

The life history of Murray cod and Golden perch. Credit: Dr Brendan Ebner.

Follow the guided journey of each fish below.
Note: Letter / number combinations (i.e. GP1, MC1) refer to the image above.

The Golden perch journey

  • Flows from the northern Murray-Darling Basin trigger spawning by adult Golden perch (GP1), and a boom of zooplankton (GP2), on which larvae and juvenile golden perch feed while drifting downstream.
  • Many travel as far as the Menindee Lakes, where they settle into nursery habitat in the newly inundated lakes (GP3).
  • Subsequent inflows to the Menindee Lakes provide opportunities for managed releases of water downstream, enabling developing juvenile and subadult Golden perch to re-populate the lower Darling- Baaka and Murray river systems (GP4).
  • These flows from the Menindee Lakes can also trigger Golden perch spawning in the Lower Darling-Baaka downstream (GP5).

The Murray cod journey

  • Murray cod are growing and reproducing annually in the lower Darling-Baaka River under perennial flows with larvae and juveniles living within proximity of their parents (MC1).
  • Snags and rocks provide important nesting sites for Murray cod where adults guard eggs during spring (MC2).
  • Soon after hatching, tiny larvae and juvenile fish feed and shelter amongst sticks and logs in shallow backwaters and eddies close to main channel flows (MC3 and MC4).

Below are two videos that show these magnificent native fish in their natural habitat, so you can also dive deep into the river to get a ‘fish eye’ perspective. This footage is courtesy of NSW DPI Fisheries scientists Dr Jerom Stocks and Dr Dylan van der Meulen.

We look forward to Brendan doing some more maps so we can continue to explore the river through his stunning artwork.

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Lower Darling-Baaka Recovery Reach

This Recovery Reach is significant for native fish in the Murray-Darling Basin, home to iconic species such as Golden perch, Murray cod, Silver perch and Freshwater catfish, as well as a number of important small-bodied native fish species.