Taking Care of Tyre Gully
Kia ora kotou,
My name is Ben and I am the Science Communicator here at WAI Wānaka.
Part of my job is to keep you up to date with the projects and research that is happening around the region. This blog is the first of many project stories and follows a restoration project that both WAI and other community partners have had a role in ensuring the success of. Please click the links throughout the blog to find out more about our partners.
There are good news to be shared about our local endangered fish! We have been working with ORC, DoC, Fish and Game Otago, Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust, and the Cardrona Catchment Group to protect and maintain the current population of a native fish as endangered as the kākāpo. The Clutha flathead.
The Clutha Flathead is a species of Galaxiid endemic to Otago. Thanks to funding from WWF-NZ, and the Tindall Foundation, the team are protecting and maintaining the fragmented populations of the Clutha Flatheads inhabiting small tributaries throughout the Cardrona Valley.
The Taking Care of Tyre Gully project is part of the wider Fish Futures programme. It is a community conservation project in a small unassuming tributary of the Cardrona River – where previously unknown populations of the Clutha Flathead have been identified using ground breaking eDNA (environmental DNA) technology.
Mahi for the Clutha Flathead
As part of the project, Otago Polytechnic engineering students have fabricated a fish barrier. DoC have installed this barrier to stop trout from swimming upstream and predating on the small Clutha Flathead. The DoC team have also been electric fishing up-stream of the fish barrier, and trout have been removed and relocated to mainstream flows of the Cardrona River. Thanks to the University of Canterbury and DoC monitoring Clutha Flathead numbers, the population data is constantly being updated.
What comes next for the Clutha Flathead?
The next steps for the Taking Care of Tyre Gully project are to continue monitoring Clutha Flathead numbers, installing further fish barriers and removing up-stream trout where necessary. In addition to that, the group is teaming up with Te Kākano Aoteroa Trust to begin a site plan for riparian restoration. Native planting helps to keep the precious ecosystem healthy, therefore creating a positive impact on Clutha Flathead habitat.
We would like to give a huge thank-you to all involved in this collaborative mahi. It’s great to see a community of passionate people sharing a vision of protecting our important native species. It takes a village to make positive change! Join us and follow along on our journey as we unite to protect and nurture the treasured ecosystems of the Upper Clutha.
- A passion for Galaxiids (WAI blog)
- WAI Science Blog
- Non-migratory galaxiids (Department of Conservation)
- Quick Guide to NZ Galaxiidae (NIWA)
- DNA detects threatened flatheads (DoC media release April 2023)
- Fish Futures
- UC Freshwater Ecology Research Group