ANU biologists are helping crayfish lead the campaign for fresher waterways along the west of Canberra.
Biologist Dr Chris Fulton and Masters student Mae Noble have spent time snorkelling in the Goobarragandra River, in the high country west of Canberra, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Murray Crayfish.
Six years ago, this was an idyllic stream of clear water gurgling over boulders, surrounded by shady trees. However, when Dr Fulton and Mae Noble arrived the trees were gone and only a muddy creek remained. Huge floods in 2012 had devastated the Goobarragandra, eroding the banks and choking it with silt.
As the pair began searching for the iconic crayfish with its distinctive white claws, their fears were confirmed. The population had plunged by 95 per cent. “The ecosystem was sitting on the edge and the 2012 flood was the catastrophic event that pushed it over the cliff,” explains Fulton.