Aquasave Consultants were contracted by Department for Water (DFW) in 2010 to undertake a baseline survey and run a community monitoring program for the naturally secretive native Australian mudfish, which have specialised wetland habitat requirements. They are little known and Critically Endangered in South Australia, being thought extinct in the state until the recent discovery of a few individuals near Beachport and Robe in the South East of South Australia.
This study combined targeted surveys and community involvement to help improve knowledge and awareness of Australian Mudfish. A total of 19 research sites and nine community monitoring sites were sampled in the Beachport-Robe region in winter and spring 2010, resulting in over 50,000 fish being caught. This included 14 native and one exotic species, and yielded exceptional catches of 361 Australian Mudfish.
Two core Australian Mudfish populations were documented, one in Sutherland Flat and the other in Lake Hawdon South. Unexpected levels of detail were collected on species habitat, sampling method, reproductive biology and population health (demography). Community monitoring was strongly supported by landholders and community members and produced valuable data. Overall the Community Mudfish project vastly improved information and awareness about this iconic species and the health of local wetland ecosystems. Information gathered by Aquasave and the local community will help to guide future conservation and management of the Australian Mudfish and its habitat.
The Baseline study and community monitoring of Australian Mudfish in South East, South Australia (Hammer & Tucker 2011) was delivered to the Department of Water under this contract.