Field trip to South Western Australia

South Western Australia, June 2009    

Image After the 8th Indo-Pacific Fish Conference in Fremantle, Western Australia, Sven O. Kullander and Heiko Bleher explored the extreme south western part of Australia in search for the only neck-bending fish on Earth, and its mates – all freshwater species of that region…

Below some photos of this trip – an extensive article will be published elsewhere.

 

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Where the heck is Northcliff? We searched for it while it was raining heavy and finally reached the most southern town with hardly over 100 inhabitants and a single road, but it had a Café and an Art Gallery…

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…and where the heck are the salamander-fishes? Sven was anxiously waiting, well prepared, while Heiko was searching…

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…the habitat had only water because it had rained and the Salamander-fishes came out the ground. The water is as black as that of the Rio Negro (and extreme acid) and the untouched area surrounded by amazing vegetation – one with a red flower out of which the stems continues to grow (centre)…

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…finally Heiko found the first ones, some of which were very small, barely 2 cm in TL. The question again by looking at those amazing creatures: are these really fishes? No other fish known behaves like this. They actually walk and move standing up! (More about this elsewhere!)

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We drove further south and had to take a photo of the D’Entrecasteaux National Park entrance, which for most of it is cattle land…

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The road leading to the most southern point of the western part of Australia crosses an amazing forest and Western Australia’s replica of the Ayers Rock, here called Mount Chudalup.

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Along the road not far from the Ocean, water holes filled from the recent rain and black as well. But where are the fishes? Sven pointing to the Lepidogalaxias salamandroides in Heiko’s hand net…

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…the Salamander-fishes live up to near the coast line in very soft and extremely acid water holes surrounded by an amazing and very unique landscape, really beautiful. We even spotted three giant Wales having their love-play near the southern coast (above).

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We had a great time, even encountered Peter Unmack from the USA hunting DNA samples and I had my fishes – all species photographed and recorded on film. More about this later…

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