RIVER BLACKFISH

Once occurring widely across the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges (EMLR) in South Australia, the River Blackfish (Gadopsis marmoratus) now remains as four distinct sub-populations in large spring-fed pools in separate catchments. In the Bremer Catchment, the species survives in pools across a 500m section of Rodwell Creek.

Historically the creek section was likely perennial (due to refilling from ground water springs), but farm dam abstraction has resulted in these pools now receiving only intermittent surface water flow. This is most apparent in dry years, and over the last 5 years there have been critical water shortages in this section of Rodwell Creek. In fact there were no surface water flows in 2007 and 2008, and subsequently receding water levels over summer and autumn seasonally threatened this River Blackfish population. During summer and autumn, lower water levels had decreased habitat area and disconnected the standing water from emergent vegetation, and dissolved oxygen concentrations had diminished considerably. These deteriorating conditions have prompted emergency invention (since autumn 2008) that has involved environmental watering and aeration, on the regional basis, of the main River Blackfish refuge. These management actions have ensured the short-term survival of River Blackfish, as it was predicted that Rodwell Creek would have completely dried in 2008. In 2010, the creek experienced flow conditions, which subsequently increased flow and water levels and connectivity through the section. Encouragingly, significant recruitment and expansion in population size and local distribution were realised in response these improved flow conditions.

Despite these encouraging signs, at the end of 2010-2011 the population remained at moderate risk of loss due to the continued threat posed by hydrological alteration in the catchment.

Monitoring and management of the creek since this time – aided by funding from the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species Inc (FAME), Goolwa to Wellington LAP and the South Australian MDB NRM Board – has ensured the short-term survival of the species, and furthermore, established a refuge location, which secured the medium-term future of the ecies in the creek. Recent sampling as part of a community day (see blog) has highlighted small-scale dispersal of the species to five of the six known pools and a small recruitment event (last spring).  Whilst the species persists it remains vulnerable to deteriorating conditions over the critical summer period. Ultimately, attention should seek to maintain the species but emphasis must turn to the enhancement of the population through the provision of environmental water requirements as part of broader catchment-wide management.

For more information, contact or see:

Whiterod N., Hammer M. (2013). River Blackfish in Rodwell Creek, 2012-2013 update. Report to the Goolwa to Wellington LAP and South Australian Murray-Darling Basin NRM Board. Aquasave – Nature Glenelg Trust, Goolwa Beach, South Australia.

Whiterod, N, & Hammer, M (2012) Conservation and Management of River Blackfish in Rodwell Creek, 2011-12. Report to the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species Ltd (FAME), Goolwa to Wellington LAP and the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin NRM Board.  Aquasave Consultants, Adelaide. 31 p.

  • Community day shows positive signs for river blackfish September 14, 2013 A community field day – organised and funded by the Goolwa to Wellington LAP (GWLAP) as part of a broader Biodiversity Fund restoration project – on the weekend assessed the status of river blackfish in Rodwell Creek prior to the upcoming critical summer period. The creek is presently flowing and the main monitoring pool is ...
  • Rodwell Creek looking good! September 22, 2012 Alix and I headed out to Rodwell Creek earlier this week to check the conditions (water quality, pool depth) as part of regular water quality monitoring of the creek. The creek has received high rainfall over the winter and is looking fantastic! The creek is still flowing and the six pools where River Blackfish occur are all ...

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