Scientists Find New Crustacean Species Living In Whale Shark's Gills
Japanese scientists have discovered a new species of crustacean in the gills of a shark, according to a recent paper. Amphipods make up an order of nearly 10,000 species that live in aquatic habitats. They’re mostly scavengers, feeding on decomposing skin, poop, and other leftovers. Some are associated with animals like sea turtles and cetaceans. This is the first one found on a whale shark, the largest fish species in the ocean. I cannot imagine that this relationship feels very good for the shark.
Deep in a secret lagoon in South Australia's Riverland a nationally endangered freshwater fish has been brought back from the brink to become a spawning species.
The Murray hardyhead is a small, native fish that was once found right across the Lower Murray River and Lower Lakes, but today.
It was originally detected in the secret spot in April, and just over half a year later researchers have discovered the species is breeding.
How Do Fish Sleep?
Nearly all animals sleep. Sleep is very important for refreshing the mind and body. When people sleep we close our eyes and lie motionless for a long time. We may be less aware of what is going on around us and our breathing slows down. Some people are very heavy sleepers and it takes a LOT to wake them up! Fish don’t have eyelids — they don’t need them underwater because dust can’t get in their eyes. But fish still sleep. Some sleep during the day and only wake up at night, while others sleep at night and are awake through the day (just like you and I). A happy puffer fish.
Natural Resources SA Murray Darling Basin wetlands project officer Stephanie Robinson made the discovery when undertaking regular salinity testing of the site.
"I was incredibly excited. This honestly is one of the best parts of my job," she said.
"Out of the 84 [fish found] we saw pregnant females, spawning males, and were also fortunate enough to see a cluster of Murray hardyhead eggs."
Strength in numbers
Ms Robinson said it was vital to ensure the location of the fragile fish remained undisclosed to ensure its survival and growth in numbers.
"Because it is an endangered species, our main aim now is just to make sure that it is protected and we continuously monitor it and look after it," she said.
The wetlands officer explained it was working partnerships with other local Landcare and conservation groups that.
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"They can tolerate salinity levels of 100,000 EC [electric conductivity], whereas their eggs can only tolerate 20,000 to 30,000 EC," Ms Robinson said.
"In comparison, the river sits at about 200 to 300 EC and the sea sits at about 50,000.
"That's why it's really important that during the spring time, environmental water gets pumped in here for freshening to give them the best possible chance of survival."
Environmental water making a difference
To keep the secret location healthy, water flows have been pumped in by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
The water holder's local engagement officer Michelle Campbell said this was the water given up by irrigators in 2012 in exchange for on-farm infrastructure project funding.
She said the amount of water being delivered to support the Murray hardyhead is different to other sites as it is about meeting the desired objective.
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"The great thing about these wetland sites is they don't need a lot of water," she said.
"On average it's around 20 gigalitres a year that's used across wetlands sites from the South Australian border down to the Coorong."
Ms Campbell said the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is always consulting with communities to determine what projects will receive flows.
"The science, over many years, has basically shown if you just add water to these flood plain habitats things get better," she said.
"But because there is so little water we have to be so careful with how we use it. We really have to target what we are using it for at these sites."
How did the fish get there?
The Murray hardyhead are thought to have populated the body of water during a high water event several years ago because it is not connected to the main river.
Nature Foundation SA Water for Nature program manager Natalie Stalenberg said the salinity of the lagoon does the fish a favour.
"The Murray hardyhead can tolerate that high level of salinity whereas their predator species can't. So they are at an advantage there," she said.
"It's a careful balance of managing those salinity levels.
"[It's about keeping enough fresh water] for the breeding, but not enough for other species."
South Australia's Riverland is not the only place that the Murray hardyhead will live and continue to breed.
The Federal Government has relocated some of the fish to a wetland in far western New South Wales after several years of work was undertaken to identify a suitable habitat.
It is the first time in more than a decade that the Murray hardyhead has been in New South Wales' waters.
Back at the secret lagoon, Ms Robinson hopes to help the threatened fish and other species thrive into the future.
"The most important things are to understand the ecology of your species, work together to maintain that environment for them, and overall protect them," she said.
Great Barrier Reef annual mass coral spawning begins .
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