Small Fish With A Big Problem

ypp 5

Southern Pygmy Perch (top), Yarra Pygmy Perch (bottom)

The Corangamite CMA have been on the hunt for the endangered native fish called the Yarra Pygmy Perch.

To track this tiny fish down Corangamite CMA staff identified 19 sites within the Lake Corangamite basin where springs provide refuges for the fish during drought. A team of aquatic ecologists engaged by the Corangamite CMA then surveyed these sites using the electrofishing method. Electrofishing momentarily stuns the fish, allowing scientists to identify and measure them and then release them back in to the waterway unharmed.

 

The survey found Yarra Pygmy Perch at three sites they had previously been found at, and at eight new sites including the Kuruc-a-ruc, Mundy Gully and Naringhal Creek systems where they were previously unknown.

 

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A great surprise was the discovery at some of the sites of hybrids between the Yarra Pygmy Perch and the closely related Southern Pygmy Perch.  It is rather uncommon to find hybrids for these fish species and this has serious implications for how to best manage this endangered species in the Corangamite region. It is likely that the extended periods of drought and the degradation of some of the refuge sites we surveyed has increased the amount of hybrids and may be an indication of the future threats to this species in a drying climate.

We are hoping to look into this further with the help of researchers to determine the best course of action to look after these important species in our region.

This project would not have been possible without the cooperation of local landholders who allowed us to survey on their properties and the Lismore Land Protection Group and Woady Yaloak Catchment Group who helped with landholder liaison. To all of these participants we are grateful.

 

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