Transcript: I'm a fish ecologist, which means I'm interested in how fish operate in the world.
The spring systems are the most vulnerable to major disruptions so there are three main spring groups throughout the Lake Eyre Basin. There's what we call the Barcaldine group in the east, the Springvale group in the middle and the Mulligan group in the west. That's where we should concentrate our efforts in trying to rehabilitate and hang onto those populations in these really interesting little spring complexes.
For me, the main threats to the rivers are actually feral animals that get into them. So for example, at this spring complex where I work up at Edgbaston, which is north east of Aramac, which has been bought by Bush Heritage, that's where we've got the last populations of a small fish called red-fin blue-eye. So these little fish only get to about 3cm long, and have evolved in these little spring pools so they only live there. And they're being invaded by that invasive species, gambusia.
What we're trying to do there is relocate some populations of red-fin blue-eye to some safe areas and then simultaneously try to actually get rid of gambusia using a few different methods. Hopefully we'll get there in the end or at least get to a point where maybe that species has a better chance of not going extinct.
There's a fish called a sleepy cod, which was introduced, well, we're not really sure how it got into the rivers out here. Somebody put them in there. If you've got a big hungry fish like that living in these waterholes and doing well, it could actually also cause local trouble for native species and of course we've got red claw all over the place and they're not a native to the basin either.
I've noticed it even in the last seven years, you get a lot more tourists every year, and if you've got 100 people camped on a waterhole who don't know it's not a really smart idea to use imported goldfish as bait then you're going to have ecological problems down the track. I've written a book about it - a very good book called Desert Fishing Lessons actually.
I think the most important thing that we can do here is not let the Lake Eyre Basin degrade and become a messy problem like the Murray Darling Basin has become. Because the Lake Eyre Basin is already in good ecological condition, we've got an ideal starting point, to not let that happen.