Saving the endangered Swan galaxias

Swan galaxias

The Inland Fisheries Service (IFS) has been working with NRM South, the CSIRO and the University of Tasmania, on a significant conservation project to ensure the long-term survival of the freshwater fish, the Swan galaxias (Galaxias fontanus).

The Swan galaxias is;

  • classified as endangered under Commonwealth and State threatened species legislation,
  • identified as one of Australia’s 22 most threatened freshwater fish at imminent risk of extinction within the next 20 years, and
  • recognised as a priority species under the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031.

Mid 2022, environmental modelling was undertaken to identify locations where the species could be translocated to establish two new insurance populations and help save the species from extinction. From around 1,200 possible sites, an extensive desktop survey reduced the number to 84 locations. IFS undertook on-ground assessments and with consideration of future climate predictions four sites were considered suitable, of which two were highly suitable.

CSIRO examined the genetic structure of  existing populations, allowing for the selection of the most varied genetics to use in the translocation, to get the best possible outcome.

During March this year, a total of 120 individuals were translocated by IFS into the two streams in the north east of the State. A recent survey of these streams i resulted in the capture of seven Swan galaxias from sone of the streams and one from the other. This is a great result and while no obvious signs of breeding have occurred yet, all fish were in very healthy condition and the stream flows were good!

In addition, the CSIRO in conjunction with the University of Tasmania, are developing environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques to examine the distribution of the existing Swan galaxias populations and to test other waterways for possible undiscovered populations.

Furthermore, NRM South working alongside the owners of the Billopp property near Cressy, have undertaken a revegetation project to protect a critically important natural population of Swan galaxias.

So far, the results across all areas of this project are promising. The IFS will continue to monitor the new populations.

For further information on this project see the NRM South website Recovery Actions for Swan Galaxias - NRM South

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