Ancient fish in Aussie island state harbor struggles to survive as environment deteriorates

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-02 13:12:54|Editor: Chengcheng
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SYDNEY, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- An ancient ray-like fish species, found only in the harbor waters of Australia's island state Tasmania, is fighting for its survival amid deteriorating environmental conditions, according to the latest research.

Scientists are deploying unprecedented monitoring technology as part of urgent measures to help the animals.

The endangered maugean skate, which lives in Tasmania's Macquarie Harbour, is struggling with falling oxygen levels, with salmon fish farm waste and changes in river flow piling pressure on the species, local media cited Tasmanian Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies research as showing on Sunday.

"We know that oxygen in the harbor has been decreasing over the last 10 years and that's raised some concerns about the maugean skate since it's an endangered species," researcher Dr. Killian Stehfest told the ABC news channel.

Stehfest is part of the team carrying out the first detailed study of the skate, which was only discovered in 1988, according to the channel.

"What we are hoping to do is getting a clear picture of the health of the species and how much time it spends in different areas which have varying levels of oxygen. That will give us a picture of how it is coping with declining oxygen rates," said Stehfest.

"It's a very interesting species, because it's the only skate species that spends all its life in brackish water and it's also the skate with the smallest range out of any skate species."

The latest study involves using catching and fitting the skates with advanced electronic tags, the first of its kind to be used on a wild animal which measures oxygen levels at different depths, with the data transmitted via underwater "listening" devices, reported the channel.

"It's exciting to be using this technology on a species, it's a world-first in many ways," said Stehfest.

Fellow researcher Jeremy Lyle said reducing salmon numbers and rotating empty pens could also help lessen the impact of the aquatic farming on the skate's habitat and the oxygen levels there.

"The environmental health of the harbor is likely to be a crucial factor in the future wellbeing of the maugean skate," Lyle told the channel.