Schools “jump in” to help save critically endangered fish species

Urrbrae High School and Alberton Primary School students have been doing something very cool – breeding Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon! The schools are working with Aquasave-NGT and the Department of Environment and Water with funding from Australian Government National Landcare to manage a hatchery and help reintroduce this critically endangered species into the single site where it was most recently known to occur in the Lower Murray.

Students release their Purple Spotted Gudgeon (Mogurnda adspersa) back into Jury Swamp. Photo: Vicki Mason

The students recently met together at Jury Swamp near Murray Bridge to release their fish into the wild and help create aquatic habitat by threading Vallisneria through matting and placing it into the swamp.

Threading Vallisneria through matting to add as aquatic habitat for the released fish with Kate Mason (Department of Environment and Water). Photo: Vicki Mason

By the 1970s the Purple Spotted Gudgeon had practically disappeared from the Southern Basin, but in an exciting find contrary to that trend, they were detected at Jury Swamp in 2002. However, as conditions deteriorated during the Millennium Drought, some fish from this population were rescued and have subsequently been used to help increase populations, via captive and wetland breeding, as well as wild releases. With the loss of the species’ former range, such reintroduction work greatly assists in conserving the species across the Southern Basin.

The team gather at the reintroduction site to learn about fish surveys from Dr Sylvia Zukowski (Aquasave – NGT). Photo: Vicki Mason

Sylvia Zukowski