This afternoon our kids thought they found a huge lungfish on their river walk - well actually 4yo Monty found it. There were amazed, excited .... and confused. It was dead, and we're not sure why. The first ethic of permaculture is 'earth care'. Today's un/homeschooling lesson was very much about this.
(As it turns out, it seems they found a very large eel - Marbled Eel Anguilla reinhardtii - according to a kind commenter. The children's learning journey continues - and ours along with them.
The reader suggested this site to identify it. Many thanks! http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/species/1426 The following information is still interesting about lungfish and we'll be keeping a look out for them now we know so much more about them.)
What was misidentified as a lungfish, is actually an eel. We had no idea that there would be massive eels like this in this swimming hold.
The Queensland lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) is an incredibly interesting fish - it's linked to fish that were on Earth before the dinosaurs - 380 million years ago in the Devonion period when Australia was still part of Gondwana. It was actually during this time that fish evolved to quite significant diversity, and often dubbed the 'Age of Fish'.
Adult lungfish are typically around 1 to 1.5 metres long and can live up to 60 years, possibly a hundred. One of the amazing things about lungfish is as the name suggests, it has a lung. This means it can not only breathe in the water through gills, but and on too through it's one lung. It can survive out of water in drying river beds, billabongs or even gullies for extended periods as long as it is kept moist in mud or aquatic weeds. Adult lungfish have dental plates, not teeth, for grinding their food - small fish, tadpoles, mussels, snails, shrimps and some aquatic plant material.
The head of the eel.
The kids thought fish would be happy and healthy in our river environment considering they found it high up in the catchment where there is little pollution and habitat resembles this description:
Adult Lungfish in the Mary River are associated with overhanging riparian (riverside) vegetation, woody debris in the water, and dense macrophyte beds. They shelter in complex, shaded habitat. They most prefer habitat with overhanging vegetation and macrophytes in relation to their availability, and often use habitat with woody debris, although adults are not as reliant on submerged branches as some other Australian freshwater fish. The species avoids open water and eroded banks.
The Queensland Lungfish has been listed as a vulnerable species under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The kids took measurements and photographs and will send these to the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee (MRCCG - www.mrccc.org.au)tomorrow. They are about to begin being water quality monitors for the MRCCG and later in the year will participate in a frog count.
Measuring the eel.
Caring for rivers, for riparian zones and taking care that our activities don't adversely impact on these areas is important. Through good design and management of our settlements and land use species such as this have a better chance of survival. The QLD Lungfish is listed as vulnerable, but are becoming increasingly threatened with human activity disturbing their habitat. Getting to know your waterway, your catchment, what lives there and how to care for it is a wonderfully important thing to do yourself and with your children. It's an ongoing learning journey that is absolutely fascinating. More info: