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Author Topic: Cod almighty- a pub crawl in the name of science  (Read 4377 times)

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Cod almighty- a pub crawl in the name of science
« on: April 03, 2015, 08:56:35 AM »
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-03/cod-almighty-a-pub-crawl-in-the-name-of-science/6369632

Murray cod research sends scientists on pub crawl for trophy fish
By the National Reporting Team's Dominique Schwartz
Posted about 3 hours ago

 
PHOTO: Dr Humphries is on a pub crawl of sorts as he searches for cod trophies over bars. (ABC News: Dominique Schwartz)
RELATED STORY: Ecologist scours pubs for mounted Murray cod to aid river research
MAP: Australia
It is a face only an angler could love — the stuffed and mounted head of a Murray cod.

But these trophy fish that typically adorn the walls of country hotels are now in hot demand, not for interior design, but science.

"We think Murray cod in pubs will tell us about the changing size of fish over time" and how that relates to the health of the river, said Dr Paul Humphries, a lecturer in ecology at Charles Sturt University in Albury, New South Wales.

Earlier this year, Dr Humphries began a blocked link campaign to locate trophy Murray cod.

He and two fellow researchers now have at least 120 mounted fish to investigate in 92 watering holes, mostly across New South Wales and Victoria.

A glorified pub crawl? I ask.

"Bone fide research!" he insists, smiling.

While anglers may be prone to exaggeration when it comes to recounting the tale of the one that got away, Dr Humphries said the Murray cod that did not escape — and is mounted on a wall — does not lie.

"If we have the locations where the fish were caught, and date and size ... and if we have a large geographic spread and a large enough spread over time, we can build up a picture of the sizes of fish that were around in those times," he said.

Regulation of rivers a threat to species

The Murray cod population is healthier today than 20 years ago, according to Jamin Forbes, a researcher at the NSW-government funded Narrandera Fisheries Centre on the Murrumbidgee River.

He said closed fishing seasons and bag and size limits helped the population to recover.

But Australia's largest freshwater fish is still listed here as vulnerable, and as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

"They're in very, very low numbers," Dr Humphries said.

"Some people have estimated 10 per cent, I say closer to 1 per cent of the population that was around here back in the mid-1800s," when the commercial fishing of Murray cod began.

Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
VIDEO: Come on a pub crawl in the name of science (7.30)
Today, Dr Humphries said, the biggest threat to Australia's iconic inland fish is the regulation of rivers — changing the course and flow of rivers for irrigation, water supply and hydro-electricity.

The Hume Dam, just minutes from Dr Humphries' laboratory, is a case in point.

"Fish are cold-blooded so their metabolism, the rate at which they grow ... is governed by the temperature of their environment," he said.

"The temperature of the water coming out the bottom of a dam, when it's full, is sometimes 10 degrees cooler than it would normally be. So rather than 30 degrees, it can be 20 degrees, and that's a huge change," he said.

"For the Murray cod it means they are very sluggish, it means they can't feed as well ... and in some cases won't breed."

And that has flow-on effects for the entire river system, Dr Humphries said.

"As the top predator in the system, [the Murray cod] really structures, from the top down, a lot of the rest of the diversity of animals and plants in the river."

'The river needs the cod and the cod needs the river'

He said the fish is vital for the health of the Murray River.

"The river needs the cod and the cod needs the river," Dr Humphries said.

"Until we can re-establish good-sized populations of Murray cod I don't think we can say the health of the river is back to where it should be.

"I look forward to the time, some way down the track, when we don't have to throw [Murray cod caught outside the legal size limit of between 55 and 75cm] back because the populations are so good.

 
PHOTO: Herbie's 75-pound cod takes pride of place in the local pub. (ABC News: Dominique Schwartz)
"But I don't think we are anywhere near that stage yet."

In the meantime, Dr Humphries and his team have plenty of anglers keen to talk about past conquests.

In the front bar of the Poachers Paradise Hotel in Rutherglen, south-eastern Victoria, 74-year-old Herbie Collins sits beneath a row of glass-eyed cod, recounting his story of wrestling in a 75-pounder.

The fish "went upstream, took a tumble and splashed with his tail and I thought 'bloody hell, what have we got here?' So I said 'brother, get up and get the rope ... put it round me gut ... I am goin' in after him'."

It was a close run thing, but in the end both cod and catcher were hauled onto the bank.

"The biggest Murray cod supposedly ever caught was almost two metres in length and weighed about 113 kilograms," Dr Humphries said.

He hasn't managed to track it down yet.

But no doubt he could have some fun trying.



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Re: Cod almighty- a pub crawl in the name of science
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2015, 11:51:09 AM »
Guess who put Dr Humphries onto Poachers Paradise in Pam's home town?

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Re: Cod almighty- a pub crawl in the name of science
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2015, 03:24:57 PM »
There's a whole mounted cod mounted on the wall among the pig heads, at the Moonie Crossroads Hotel. 60 + pounder.....

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Re: Cod almighty- a pub crawl in the name of science
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2015, 03:33:36 PM »
He has that one.  He is still chasing more in northern NSW and Queensland

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Re: Cod almighty- a pub crawl in the name of science
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2015, 07:14:49 PM »
The Top Pub in Stanthorpe used to have a number of Cod heads on the wall. I'm not sure if they are still there.

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Re: Cod almighty- a pub crawl in the name of science
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2015, 01:24:54 AM »
A while ago there was a search for the largest Cod picture

 

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