Fish and Water Quality Monitoring

The Flinders Ranges Mogurnda (Mogurnda clivicola), known also as Wirti Udla Varri, is a small fish, growing to about 11 or 12cm, that inhabits the permanent waters of Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park. It is classified as “critically endangered” in South Australia by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Friends have been monitoring the fish population and analysing the chemistry of the waters they inhabit. Read more here  Fish&Water

Flinders Ranges Mogurnda (Mogurnda clivicola)

The Friends have captured underwater videos of the Mogurnda in their pools and some are presented below.

The Friends walk along the creek beds through the gorges and to the permanent spring-fed waterholes of the Park and use dip nets and baited fish traps to sample the fish population. The fish length is measured and recorded before they are released back into their pools. Shown at left is Martin getting ready with a ruler to measure the length of fish in the tray. The publications resulting from these expeditions may be read by going to the Publications Page.

Martin preparing to measure fish length

The presence, amount and quality of the water in pools inhabited by fish is of special interest in their management. We collect water samples from the pools in our sampling plan. The Friends have equipment to measure a variety of parameters of water quality, including: the concentration of dissolved oxygen; water temperature; the electrical conductivity; the pH; and the concentration of the following ions: Chloride, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Nitrate. These measurements allow us to determine the range of water quality values that the fish find they are comfortable to live in.

Rob measuring water pH

The presence of very small fish (fish fry) is of particular interest as they indicate a recent breeding event. The presence of fry implies that the population has the potential to expand, or at least replace itself and allows for the possibility of following the new cohort over time to determine its growth rate.

Mogurnda clivicola fry (1cm long)

In May of 2021 a meticulously planned officially-sanctioned translocation of fish took place. The long planned-for transfer of Mogurnda clivicola to permanent water bodies to the south of the Park was to establish “insurance” populations of the Mogurnda that would allow for the continued existence of the fish should some untoward event occur to the wild populations. The Friends were involved in the translocation. A description of the 2021 expedition to capture and transport the fish may be read here TransLoc

The translocation involved transferring the fish by helicopter and attracted considerable interest. A media release that announced the event may be read here MediaRel and here: ABCreport

To view a youtube video that discusses the translocation, click on this link TransVid

Helicopter basket ride for translocated fish