Day 6

Today was the day I tried electrofishing! We waded through creeks in a grassy woodland, in the south of the Namadgi National Park, and sent electric currents through the water to electrify the fish!

 

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Andriana, Sandra and I joined the fish team today, to go in search of the fish leech that is living off the giraffe spotted two-spined black fish, and to check on the spread of the introduced rainbow trout and the populations of the native galaxidis. We had a late start today so we went to Tidbinbilla N.P to check out the corroboree frog exhibit. The corroboree frog is a critically endangered species that is being re-introduced as part of a program run through the N.P. The frog is being wiped out by a fungus, so healthy populations are being bred and steps taken to ensure the fungus doesn’t continue to spread through the new populations. Once we were on the road, we headed south-west, towards the Corin Dam. We had to treat our vehicles and shoes with a cleaning solution before we could enter the areas, to protect against spread of the fungus and any weed seeds. At our first stop we watched Micheal and Matt electrify the water and catch a couple of two-spined black fish, a couple of rainbow trout and a yabby. By the time we arrived at the next site, I was ready to get in the water! I was assured that the waders act as an insulator to protect me from the 1000 volts that we were putting in the water, so I headed into the creek! The current shocks the fish long enough to collect them in a net, so after a few seconds they are up and about again. After climbing along the edge of the creek, through some pretty thick vegetation, and only falling over and losing the sample once, we managed to collect about a dozen galaxidis.

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At our next site Adriana jumped in the water with the fish guys, and I’m happy she did because a copperhead was very interested in what they were up to! The copperhead snake swam toward them three times and had to be flung back up onto the bank! Gross! The area that we were in was so beautiful and in this creek they managed to find lots of two-spined black fish with leech bites and finally a leech! It was so tiny, about 5mm, and bright orange. It is an unknown species that has not been studied or named, so Michael was going to try to find a leech specialist from somewhere in the world, to study, describe and name the new species. Success! 

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On our way back to camp we came across another blotched blue tongue lizard on the road, so we stopped to say hi and give him a pat J Today was a success for the fish team, finding the leech and confirming certain areas that are still full of galaxadis and not too many trout! I have come across lots of examples of introduced species causing significant harm to the native flora and fauna on this trip, and have learned a lot about how ACT Parks manage the issue.

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Tomorrow I am heading back out with the reptile team which consists of two new team members who are looking for some big goannas!