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Study finds thriving lungfish population around Paradise Dam


A 10-year monitoring program commissioned by SunWater after the construction of Paradise Dam in 2005 has confirmed the dam and the surrounding Burnett River remains home to a thriving lungfish community.

The species is known for its unique dorsal lung, which it can use to rise to the surface of water to swallow air when streams become stagnant – like in times of drought – or oxygen levels in water drop due to factors like hot weather.

The Queensland lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) is listed as vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and is a protected species under the Queensland Fisheries Act 1994.

SunWater Environment Manager Gordon Delaney said SunWater were delighted with the results of the study.

“This is great news for both SunWater and the broader community in relation to the lungfish population present in the Burnett River around Paradise Dam,” he said.

“The study confirmed lungfish remain a common and widespread species in the Burnett River and importantly, shows no evidence of a decline in populations across the study area.

“To ensure the integrity of the report, all raw data was provided to the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research and subjected to a more detailed independent analysis.”

Throughout the program a total of 7458 lungfish captures were recorded and 1967 lungfish eggs were observed.

Study key findings

  • There was little change in the size or structure of lungfish populations during the 10-year period following construction of Paradise Dam.
  • The condition of lungfish observed during the monitoring program fluctuated within limits observed in previous lungfish monitoring programs in the Burnett River.
  • Some lungfish in the current study made movements from within the dam to river reaches downstream of the dam wall. It is unclear whether these fish moved over the spillway or utilised the downstream fishway at Paradise Dam. Regardless, the recaptures provide evidence that some fish can make such movements without suffering long-term injury or death.
  • Downstream movements may be leading to a gradual accumulation of lungfish in river reaches downstream of the dam wall. Given these observations, it is important the fishway at Paradise Dam continues to operate so that displaced fish can make return upstream movements.

A copy of the report can be found here:

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