Australian Trout Foundation ATF Online
Shaw Galaxias
Saving the rare Shaw Galaxias
 
Parks Victoria, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI), West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), VRfish and the Australian Trout Foundation recently worked together on a project to install predator barriers and thus protect the only known habitat of the Shaw Galaxias, a rare alpine fish that was in danger of extinction.
ARI Fish Ecologist Dr Tarmo Raadik indicated that the Shaw Galaxias lives at the top of a small creek in the upper reaches of the Macalister River Catchment in the Alpine National Park.
 
Unfortunately severe storms and floods in 2010 and 2011 had a big impact on their habitat and ex-posed the fish to aquatic predators, including trout, that quickly reduced the distribution of Shaw Galaxias to only a 300 metre long reach of a 0.3 metre wide creek. So immediate action had to taken to prevent the extinction of the species.

The Shaw Galaxias is a newly discovered small native freshwater fish. Its global distribution is restricted to a very short headwater section of Shaw Creek at an elevation of 1500 m in the upper  reaches  of  the  Caledonia  River  in  the  Macalister  River system. 
Significantly, Shaw Galaxias is one of only a few native fish that are endemic to Victoria, and is the only native fish recorded from above 800 m in elevation in the Macalister River system in the Alpine National Park. 
 
By the 1960s the distribution of Shaw Galaxias was restricted to approximately 4 km of stream, and in 2007 a healthy population of Shaw Galaxias still existed upstream of a small natural waterfall in ‘The Gorge’, which formed a barrier to upstream colonization by predators. 
However  those  severe  storms  and  floods  between  September 2010 and March 2011 altered the structure of this barrier, and hence by May 2012 the galaxiid population had been dramatically reduced in abundance and distribution to a small number of young fish in one side tributary, occupying an area approximately 300 m long and 0.3 m wide. In response, temporary barriers were installed in the creek to protect the tiny remaining area where the Shaw Galaxias is now found. To make sure the fish aren’t placed at risk by future floods a permanent predator barrier was also constructed further down the creek. This will not affect the valuable recreational salmonid fishery that exists further downstream.
 
While the ATF is clearly principally concerned with protecting and promoting trout, it recognises the importance of preserving endangered species such as the Shaw Galaxias, and was pleased to be involved in this project.