Rare fish rescued from bushfire zone

Rare fish rescued from bushfire zone

02 April 2013

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia — Victorian scientists have rescued a rare species of freshwater fish from Gippsland because of concerns that recent bushfires could threaten its natural habitat.

Only about 3,000 tapered galaxias exist in the world and all are located in a two square kilometre section of Stony Creek near Seaton, north-west of Heyfield.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has captured 110 fish from the area following the Aberfeldy bushfire which burned out 85,000 hectares.

Fish ecologist, Dr Tarmo Raadik, says while the fish do survive immediately after the fire, it was feared soil erosion from the burnt area may have wiped out the entire species.

“What tends to happen afterwards is the vegetation is burnt and you get a lot of the soil in the catchment slopes slipping in and basically suffocating and killing the fish,” he said.

“It can happen very rapidly and it can happen over the entire population.”

The fish will be temporarily housed at the Arthur Rylah Institute in Heidelberg.

“The department’s temporary removal of these fish is our insurance against the loss of the remaining population,” Environment Minister Ryan Smith said.

“They’ll be fed, they’ll be healthy and as soon as the catchment has recovered, we’ll put them back out and they’ll help the population to continue in the wild,” Dr Raadik said.

The small fish was discovered about five years ago and is considered to be critically endangered.

DSE worker Michael Nicol holds up a tank with a tapered galaxia fish in a bushfire-ravaged landscape in Gippsland

About 110 tapered galaxias were removed from the creek and taken to a DSE facility in Melbourne until their habitat recovers.


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