Twenty years ago, the southern purple-spotted gudgeon was declared extinct. But now the so-called ‘zombie fish’ has reappeared in Victoria.
In 2019, two of these were found in the Middle Reedy Lake in the wetlands of Kerang following which the Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon Advisory Group was established.
According to abc.net.au, the group consisted of scientists and researchers who methodically searched the wetlands for other members of the species. Two years later, their efforts bore fruit and they announced the discovery of a colony with 66 of the “mysterious” fish.
The freshwater species will now be revived through a captive breeding program, reported Daily Mail. It will be Vitoria’s Department of Environment, Water, and Planning’s Icon Species program.
Representing the Department of Environment, Water, and Planning, Adrian Martins, said that it was an incredible and exciting find. It was unbelievable finding so many in the Middle Reedy lake, he added
Thegudgeon received its name ‘zombie fish’ from Victoria’s North Central Catchment Management Authority, whose next task is to work on a plan for the long-term survival of the species.
Martins further added that most of his team had spent their entire lives dealing with the decline of endangered species and therefore witnessing something that was thought to be extinct “is something special.”
He said the conservationists now stood a great chance to not just the mysterious fish back from the brink but also help multiply its numbers and distribution back up to what they were before European occupation, river regulation and the introduction of pest species.
According to reports, the species is extinct in South Australia, endangered in New South Wales but are still in abundance in Queensland.
Martins said his team will now focus on protecting the population of zombie fish in the Kerang Lakes area first and at the same time expanding them and getting them back to the Murray corridor.
The discovery of this fish, Martin said, has rekindled hope among researchers that they might locate other species thought to be extinct.
“It gives us an insight into the nature of some of these species, that are persisting in the broad environment that we don’t know a lot about,” he said.