Next time chew your food! - Almighty Cod coughs up rare fish dish
3 May, 2012
Researchers from the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s (DSE) Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) are used to catching big fish on the Murray River but one big cod has given them a surprise by coughing up a live fish.
ARI Fish Ecologists Matthew Jones and John McKenzie were electro-fishing around snags at Lock 11 on the Murray River near Mildura last week when they pulled out a 1.2 metre long threatened Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii).
“It was a big cod but it’s not unusual for us to find fish that big, but when we got this one on board it coughed up a 400mm long Golden Perch (Macquaria ambigua) that was still alive,” Dr Jones said.
“Occasionally we see a large Murray cod coughing up a small dead fish, but this perch was more than a foot long and alive.”
“It was definitely a first for both of us and we just looked at each other in disbelief. It must have been breakfast for the big Murray Cod.”
“We put the perch into the boat’s ‘live-well’ and it recovered quickly. It was upright and swimming alongside other fish, so we tagged and released it along with the other fish we caught.”
“Despite the ordeal of being eaten by a cod, shocked by the electrofisher and tagged, the lucky perch still swam away.”
Dr Matthew Jones heads up the Victorian component of the Murray River Fishways Assessment Program (MRFAP), a tri-state research program run by Dr Jones, Dr Lee Baumgartner from Fisheries NSW and Mr Brenton Zampatti from the South Australian Research and Development Institute, funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Living Murray Monitoring Program.
The aim of the program is to assess the response of native fish to the Murray-Darling Basin’s fishway installation program, which is aiming to restore fish passage in the Murray River between the Goolwa barrages in South Australia, and the Hume dam, near Albury, opening up 2,225 km of river for fish to migrate.
If anglers capture a tagged fish, they should record the date, capture location, species and tag number and ring through the details on the free number (1800 134 093) listed on the external tag.
Anglers who do so will receive a reward and information on the movement behaviour of the recaptured fish. Recapture information is incorporated into an angler tag return database which is used to analyse the movement behaviour of fish against various environmental cues, and to improve river management for native fish.
The Victorian Government has a responsibility under the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 to protect threatened species. These animals and plants contribute significantly to the biodiversity of their ecosystems. The knowledge we acquire about these species helps us to then take the on-ground steps needed to ensure their survival.