On Monday 16 March 2009 I had a very pleasant surprise visit from members of TALE (Tropical Aquatic Life Enthusiasts).
They had travelled from Cairns and were keen on a field trip to Ella Bay. TALE is a unique group as their members are not just interested in fish. Individual members specialise in aquatic vegetation, snails, turtles, invertebrates, reptiles and their President Mr Bob Kroll is even a butterfly expert.
We all agreed that the variety of fish found at Ella Bay by previous fish surveys (5 Species found during Ella Bay environmental impact surveys over 2 days) was surprisingly low and did not truly reflect the diverse fish fauna which can be found in the wet tropics. This diversity has been well documented and a small booklet to be found at http://www.jcu.edu.au/rainforest/infosheets/fishes_forest.pdf makes a great read.
We had a picnic lunch next to the beach and looked at 2 creeks only metres to the south of the proposed Ella Bay Resort. The water was very cool and clear, the variety of fish life was the only thing keeping snorkellers in the stream!
All fish were Identified in situ by a group with over 100 years of freshwater fish identification experience (probably 200 but I think the Vice President Dr Bruce Hansen lies about his age!) All fish were identified in situ and none were removed or injured.
The following species were found during a 2 hour search by 5 TALE members and yours truly:
Pacific blue-Eye - Pseudomugil signifier
Eastern rainbowfish - Melanotaenia splendida splendida
Cairns rainbowfish - Cairnsichthys rhombosomoides
Glass perch - Ambassis interruptus
Empire gudgeon - Hypseleotris compressa
Flathead goby - Glossogobius giuris (possibly G. circumspectus)
Sleepy cod - Oxyeleotris lineolatus
Jungle perch - Kuhlia rupestris
Marbled eel - Anguilla reinhardtii
Pacific short-finned eel - Anguilla obscura
Tilapia ( juvenile) - Tilapia mariae
Spotted scat - Scatophagus argus
Jungle prawn - Macrobrachium lar
Small atyid-type shrimp - Caridina sp.
Assorted crabs and freshwater snails.
A nocturnal field trip in the near future should reveal many new and interesting species for this area.
As an added bonus the group saw and photographed cassowary spoor and footprints along the creek banks and all up everyone had a great trip.
I met some amazing people that day and was fortunate to share such a beautiful place with them.