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River Torrens recovery allows for rewilding of a local fish

Tuesday 07 November 2023 | 2 min read

The critically endangered southern purple-spotted gudgeon will be reintroduced to River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari today – a strong sign of the improved health of the river.

Dr Sylvia Zukowski, Mayor Kris Hanna and Glynn Ricketts


The gudgeons have been a missing part of the river system for over a century, and are being reintroduced to the Breakout Creek / Purruna Pari section, which has progressively been restored from an artificial channel to a more natural waterway in partnership with City of Charles Sturt and City of West Torrens.

The reintroduction is thanks to a partnership between Green Adelaide, Nature Glenelg Trust and the City of Marion, and Green Adelaide Presiding Member Professor Chris Daniels said it was only possible thanks to ongoing recovery of the river, which can now effectively support the species.

“A revamped section of Breakout Creek / Purruna Pari will provide a home to the new fish on the block, and help them play a key role in boosting the resilience of the species as a whole,” Professor Daniels said.

“Conservation activities as part of the redevelopment of the area, like water quality management, pest management and habitat restoration, have all assisted in making the rewilding project possible.

“The southern purple-spotted gudgeon was introduced to Oaklands Wetland a few years ago, and the success of this translocation has helped to facilitate breeding, so that they can now be re-introduced to River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari.”

Nature Glenelg Trust Senior Aquatic Ecologist Dr Sylvia Zukowski said the fish had been declared as regionally extinct in SA in the early 1990s.

“These little fish were thought to be extinct in the wild in SA until a small population was found in the Murray Darling Basin in 2002,” Dr Zukowski said.

“Rescued fish were brought into a captive breeding program managed by Nature Glenelg Trust in wetlands, private dams and schools to boost numbers of the gudgeon.

“We’ve managed to build populations to a point where we can allow the species to be released into the wild, including into their former historical range of the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari.”

Mayor of Marion Kris Hanna said Oaklands Wetland had played a key role in the recovery of the species.

“For 2 years, Oaklands Wetlands has been home to these most colourful residents,” Mayor Hanna said.

“The fish have enjoyed the Marion Council area so much, they have been breeding like crazy.

“There are enough now to share with River Torrens, but I hope plenty will stay with us.”

This significant release into the River Torrens follows a translocation to the wetlands in 2021.

For further information on urban rewilding projects, head to our projects.

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