Recent fish survey of the Piccaninnie Ponds system

Recent fish survey of the Piccaninnie Ponds system

I recently undertook a fish survey – for DEWNR, funded through the Australian Government – across the Piccaninnie Ponds system (following on from annual sampling in 2011, 2012). The survey assessed the status of fish species across the diverse range of habitats and, specifically, explored areas recently inundated as part of restoration works. In total, over 8000 fish from nine native fish species were recorded across the 15 sampled sites. A number of species have benefited from the expansion in wetland habitat, including southern pygmy perch that were the most abundant species collected and were readily observed in the newly inundated areas (as well as showing signs of recent recruitment in these areas).

Spotted galaxias (Steve Clarke)

Pulling the nets (Steve Clarke)

The nationally threatened dwarf galaxias has also been favoured by the greater extent of water through the system, as have some diadromous species (those that require connection between ocean and freshwater areas), which highlights broad connectivity across the system (and with the ocean through the two fishways). We were able to detect a single Yarra pygmy perch in Crescent Pond indicating that the species is still (just) persisting in the system (in this pond the species underwent dramatic declines and had not been observed since 2010), although it is evident that reintroductions may be necessary to help restore the status of species in the system. Overall, the system continues to maintain an important and diverse fish community, which is expected to further respond to recent restoration work over the coming seasons – we will return next autumn to repeat sampling.

Thanks to Steve Clarke (DEWNR), and volunteers from the Friends of Mt Gambier Area Parks (special thanks to Maureen and Ian and especially Ian ‘ironman’ Kenny who helped out over the whole week) and Stephan and Tony from the fire crew.

Nick Whiterod