Around the world from the UK to Down Under – Tom Hiatt’s internship with NGT in 2018

Well… where do I start?

The past three and a half months have flown by as an Intern with NGT. It all started back in February 2018 when I was part-way through the final year of my undergraduate studies in the United Kingdom, and I was weighing up my options for what to do once I had finished my course.

I decided an Internship would be the best option for me to gain practical experience once I had graduated, and so I did some homework online and came across NGT – then took the plunge and contacted Mark to see if he would offer an Internship.

It has been a long journey: from the initial exchange of emails, to confirming the Internship, to then jumping on the plane to travel overseas to the other side of the world. Now, as I write this blog I am in the final days of my time with NGT.

Tom Hiatt and Lauren Veale out fish surveying in Long Swamp in 2018

Since my last blog where I discussed the first month of my Internship, I have been involved in a diverse range of activities, including:

  • Bush maintenance at Kurrawonga (NGT’s reserve) in Nelson
  • Helping Sheryl with wild pine weed control near Mt Gambier
  • Pricking out of seedlings at the nursery at the NGT office in Mt Gambier
  • Assisting Lauren V with fish monitoring in the Wannon River Catchment in the Grampians region
  • Undertaking monitoring of fish communities across the Mount Lofty Ranges
  • Assisting on a collaborative project (with Scotte Wedderburn, University of Adelaide) surveying for Yarra Pygmy Perch across the Lower Lakes
  • Murray Hardy head and Southern Purple spotted Gudgeon translocations around the Lower Murray

Tom Hiatt out fish sampling with NGT, as part of his internship in 2018

More recently I have also spent a week fish sampling at the Walkers Swamp property and the Wannon River near the Grampians in Victoria. The location of these sites were near the iconic Grampians, which was often viewed in the background of the survey sites – so I guess there are worse places that you could be!

Surveys covered a range of sites and employed the use of single-wing fyke nets. What was interesting about these surveys was the numbers of Dwarf Galaxias caught which have not been observed in such numbers at other locations.

The last six weeks of my Internship have been based in Victor Harbor assisting Nick and the Aquasave-NGT team with fish monitoring over a number of projects in the Mt Lofty Ranges, Murray River and Lower. The aim of these surveys was to monitor general native fish populations, with surveys at two sites each day using single winged fyke nets and double winged fyke nets.

Throughout my time here I have also helped with a Yarra Pygmy Perch survey with Scotte Wedderburn. This fish species has not been detected in the Murray Darling Basin for a couple of years now and there is concern about the species becoming extinct. Thirty-two sites were surveyed across six weeks with each site being surveyed three consecutive nights in an attempt to maximise the probability of detection. I won’t give the results away, but things are not looking good for the species at the moment. Further work is hopefully going to be done to prevent the extinction of this native species.

The last few days of my time in Victor have been spent doing two fish translocations for the Southern Purple spotted Gudgeon and the Murray Hardyhead. These two threatened native species are currently struggling in the wild, so I hope these reintroductions will help improve their future prospects.

Finally, thank you to everyone for all your help and support over my time with NGT. I have seen some truly amazing places through South Australia and memories that will last a lifetime, and I hope to see you all in the foreseeable future.

Thanks – Tom Hiatt

Tom Hiatt