Native fish surveys have excited ecologists with large-scale discovery.
Native fish surveys conducted in Bookmark Creek have uncovered unusual numbers of golden perch and freshwater catfish.
The Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board (MRLB) Floodplain team worked with the Bookmark Creek Action Group and students from St Francis of Assisi College to conduct these surveys throughout March, 2022.
MRLB Project Officer Stephanie Robinson said that golden perch and catfish are known to appear in Bookmark Creek but only in small numbers during high flow events.
"We caught two adult and two juvenile freshwater catfish in this year's autumn survey, which is very exciting considering we have no records of juvenile freshwater catfish caught in the past in this system," Ms Robinson said
"The juvenile large-bodied native fish caught during these surveys in the last two years is a great indication of breeding events that may have been triggered by the recent unregulated flows or weir pool raising."
This discovery shows an increase in fish diversity in the creek and supports the Department for Environment and Water's (DEW) Sustaining Riverland Environments (SRE) program.
The SRE program is a $37.6 million project funded by the Australian Government with aims to enhance environmental outcomes on a local scale.
The program is in the final design stages for proposed Bookmark Creek infrastructure upgrades at Jane Eliza Estate and Nelwart Street that will reinstate more natural habitat conditions for native species.
SRE project team lead with the Department for Environment and Water, Nathan Clisby said upgrades to the Jane Eliza inlet regulator include a multi-purpose passage for aquatic life, such as fish and turtles, as well as for community benefit, with canoe passage and a pedestrian bridge.
"These fish finds are exciting and show exactly why we need this infrastructure and rejuvenation work to continue supporting the aquatic life in Bookmark Creek," Mr Clisby said.
"They will improve flow conditions for the movement of the large-bodied native fish that the wetlands team are currently finding, as well as enhance community experience and recreation opportunities."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.