Why are there no true freshwater protected areas in Australia?

Freshwater ecosystems such as rivers, lakes and wetlands are precious. They contain several-times more vertebrate species per unit area than land and ocean environments, and they are more degraded.

Protected areas such as Alpine National Park and the Great Barrier Marine Park are a crucial tool for conserving wildlife on land and in the sea. But there is no similar protection for freshwater ecosystems in the world’s driest continent, Australia. Why not?

Alien fish boom shows difficulty of replenishing Murray-Darling

Wetlands and rivers need water – not least in the case of Australia’s biggest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin, which has been the target of an “environmental watering” plan designed to preserve its water levels and quality.

But research shows that, during the 2010-11 floods, measures taken to manage water levels and preserve local wildlife ended up helping alien species, such as the troublesome common carp.

A yabby is a crayfish but a cray is not a yabby: what’s in a name?

Everyone knows what a yabby is, don’t they? Well, you would be surprised. Those charming little critters with nippers in your local dam may belong to the species Cherax destructor, also known as the common yabby, but they may also be juvenile spiny crayfish (genus Euastacus), adult burrowing crayfish (genus Engaeus) or another species within the genus Cherax, including gilgies, marron and redclaw.

Rakali - Hydromys

I refuse to call these critters Water Rats. Too many Australia mammals just get labelled "rats". It generates negative thoughts toward Australian Wildlife and shows a big problem Australia has in trying to conserve our natural biodiversity, when much of our precious wildlife are considered vermin. Enjoy this podcast and open your mind 

We are on the lookout for the water rat, also known as the Rakali. 'It's quite distinct, it's semi-aquatic so it spends a lot of its time in water, and it's filling the same niche as otters,' says Professor Peter Banks from the University of Sydney.

Southern Pygmy Perch

Australia has around 300 species of freshwater fish. Many people are aware of iconic species like Australian Bass, Barramundi and Murray Cod, but there a many small fish that deserve our attention. Here is the Southern Pygmy Perch.

Research by ILWS Masters of Philosophy student Luke Pearce aims to help the survival of a tiny native fish once found throughout the southern part of the Murray Darling Basin, and Charles Sturt University is also providing a home for this battler.

Fishing for Microplastics

Since the discovery of the Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997, which is predicted to measure twice the size of Texas, five more have been found across the world’s oceans with the Atlantic gyre predicted to be even larger. This plastic takes thousands of years to degrade, remaining in the environment to be broken up into ever smaller fragments by ocean currents. The gyre stretches from the coastlines of California to the shores of Japan. Recent studies have estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer of the world’s oceans. The number of plastic pieces in the Pacific Ocean has tripled in the last ten years and the size of the accumulation is set to double in the next ten. Sea Chair is made entirely from plastic recovered from our oceans. Together with local fishermen, Studio Swine collects and processes the marine plastic into a stool at sea.

Insect Order identification app

A colleague is working on developing some identification resources using the LUCID key which will include a smartphone app... watch this space. He showed me a LUCID Key app currently available for android and iOS which is for the identification of Insect Orders.

Apps which have keys to assist your identification skills are fantastic to ensure proper identification of fauna and flora and can be carried into the field.

iOS version - Insect Orders lucid key app

android version - Insect Orders lucid key app