Encouraging signs for flying Flinders fish

News article |

Signs of population growth have been recorded for the endangered Flinders Ranges Purple-spotted Gudgeon (Wirti Udla Varri) at their new homes in the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park (IFRNP) and at their original location in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Visits to the translocation sites in March found that the fish had survived the summer and bred, with small fish below 3cm dominating the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park (IFRNP) release site. Only a few adult fish were noted at two of the release sites in the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), where finding small fish can be more difficult. This is because of the larger bodies of water and numerous reed beds when compared with the smaller pools at IFRNP.

Re-surveying the locations where fish were taken in the northern Flinders also showed fish had bred on more than one occasion over the summer with several fish size classes present in April. This included fish less than 2cm long, indicating recent hatching.

Six hundred Flinders Ranges Purple-spotted Gudgeons were translocated from their only known locations in the northern Flinders Ranges in May 2021. Half were released into a spring in Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park, the other half on the Yappala IPA north-west of Hawker.

While detailed monitoring protocols were designed by the reintroduction team prior to translocation, they proved to be premature. The fish dispersed, making the carefully designed regime ineffective. A baited video trap design worked well at source locations where fish were abundant and hungry. However in the release areas the fish weren’t interested in the bait at all. This can be explained as a low ratio of fish to available food meant they weren’t hungry enough to investigate the bait.

The team found basic observation more effective in the early stages at IFRNP until the cool winter temperatures and numerous flood events made the fish hard to detect. This continued until temperatures warmed up in November 2021.

A positive sign was the capture of some baby fish (fry) on the video of an underwater remote control vehicle at one of the release sites on the Yappala IPA where a few adult fish were also observed. Adult fish were also seen in and around one of the release pools on IFRNP.

Ongoing assistance with monitoring all of the populations has been provided by Friends of Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park, Yappala IPA Rangers and Ecoknowledge.

The translocation was undertaken as part of the Bounceback and Beyond Project, which is supported by the SA Arid Lands Landscape Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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