Cat food; for fish it is good!
We started off the day as usual by checking our mammal and reptile traps. Today we found two Northern quolls, a Northern brown bandicoot (pictured) and a legless lizard. Today, I got to assist with field research focused on the collection and sampling of fish, dragonflies and damsels. The goal of today’s trip was to find the Northern purple spotted gudgeon (Morgunda Morgunda). Usually fish species would be sampled using an electrofisher; a machine that runs an electrical current into the water and stuns the fish so they float to the surface for collection. However, unfortunately this couldn’t be used today. Instead we tried to catch a range of fish and crustaceans by adding cat food as bait to bait traps and opera house traps (seen below). Although, we didn’t find the gudgeon we did find a new species of glass fish which has not been previously found in this area of Groote Eylandt. While we were waiting for the fish to swim into the traps, we were joined by a friendly Mertens’ water monitor (Varanus mertensi) which oversaw our insect collecting from a rock on the edge of the creek. We tried to catch a range of dragonflies and damsels with nets including the Scarlet Percher, the Golden faced river damsel and the Rosy Skimmer (Orthetrum migratum), seen below.
We finished off the day by collecting our surveillance cameras and reviewing the footage, as well as collecting our Elliot traps, pitfall traps and wire cages for cleaning. Excitingly, after dinner we got to see local sugar gliders. It has been amazing over the last few days to see the range of specialties an ecologist can have. I encourage you to research further where a job in Ecology can take you!