Improved threatened fish population in the Lower Lakes

Date posted: 01 August 2017

Two threatened native fish populations are on the rise highlighting the healthier riverine environment across the River Murray’s Lower Lakes.
Recent fish monitoring by the University of Adelaide in the Lower Lakes – Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert - revealed a rise in Murray hardyhead and southern pygmy perch population.
Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) spokesperson, Adrienne Rumbelow said that despite these native fish being small and hard to find, they are an important part of the ecosystem, providing a food source for waterbirds and larger fish.
“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.
“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 that the native fish now have a larger area to live, grow and breed, providing them a better food supply as well as shelter under new plant growth.
“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 and is part of a long-term monitoring program funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s The Living Murray initiative; which is in turn funded by the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth Governments. 

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