A rare native Queensland fish species has been saved thanks to a joint emergency rescue operation near Killarney on the Condamine River in southern Queensland. In early February, a team of experts travelled out to Killarney and captured 50 blackfish, 150 mountain galaxias (above photo) and 50 crayfish over a two day operation.  This video takes you through the rescue of these rare species…

The rescue was made possible by the Murray−Darling Basin Authority who approved emergency funding for the rescue operation as part of its Native Fish Management and Recovery Strategy. This strategy aims to identify native fish populations within the Murray−Darling Basin catchment that are at risk as a result of the ongoing and prolonged drought conditions being experienced across the Basin.

Blackfish is a cold-water species that is unable to survive in water temperatures above 28 degrees. Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) ecologists identified that blackfish, which is only found in Spring Creek upstream of Killarney was at risk due to ongoing drought, extreme heat and recent bushfire conditions.

River Blackfish. Photo credit: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Qld.

To capture the fish, the scientists used a technique known as backpack electro-fishing. This involves briefly introducing an electrical current into the stream, stunning the fish enough to stop them swimming and make them roll over so that they are easier to catch in a net. For the crayfish, scientists used pieces of lamb to attract them out of their burrows and hiding places before scooping them up in nets.

The fish and crays have now been transported to a specialised refrigerated aquaculture facility where they will be kept as an ‘insurance’ population until the natural conditions improve. If the wild populations do die out in Spring Creek, the captured fish will be released back into the wild once it is safe to do so.

Very few fish were found in sections of the creek where they once thrived. This proves how important this rescue mission was in guaranteeing the survival of these important and rare native species.

Post from River Reach Newsletter February 2020