Killarney saves ancient fish from extinction

A KILLARNEY habitat has prevented a rare and ancient native fish from becoming Queensland's first freshwater species lost to climate change.

The river blackfish was successfully introduced to Adjinbilly Creek in July by the Department of Environment and science.

Principal scientist Jonathan Marshall the cold-water fish were widely distributed millions of years ago when the climate was cold and wet, but have faced increased pressure from rising temperatures and dry creeks.

"It's now only the second population of the threatened species to exist in Queensland," Dr Marshall said.

"Before last week, river blackfish were known from only one stream in Queensland. Now, they occupy two."

In February, a team of ecologists captured 50 river blackfish from Spring Creek in the upper Condamine River catchment, where water had almost stopped flowing due to drought.

The fish were housed in a specialised aquaculture 'ark' until conditions improved.

"This is a significant step towards re-establishing the natural range of blackfish and will greatly aid in the ongoing conservation of the species," Dr Marshall said.

"It is the first blackfish restocking project ever attempted in Queensland, and I congratulate the team involved in this successful project.

Adjinbilly Rainforest Retreat owner Tony Hoopmann said the reintroduction of blackfish supported local conversation efforts.

"The guests who visit our retreat are fascinated by the crayfish and other animals that survive throughout the Gondwana Rainforest. The blackfish are an amazing example of how these animals have survived over tens of thousands of years," he said.

Kim Charles, member of the Githabul people, too vouched support for the project.

"The proactive scientific approach was most interesting, fresh and sensible. Rare native fish were removed from danger, then reintroduced back to country," she said.

"It's encouraging to know that the species is protected, along with our culture through the ability to share knowledge in a cooperative and mutually respective way."

Griffith University, James Cook University and Jardini Pty Ltd also participated in the DES rescue mission.



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