We recently held a sold-out event Sawfish Stories at the State Library in Perth and it was a great success!
There was a buzzing atmosphere with over 160 supporters coming along to find out about the fascinating sawfish of the Fitzroy River. Folk learned how the Fitzroy River is the world’s last stronghold for the critically endangered Freshwater Sawfish; and how very fragile the river is to water extraction.
A big thank you to the fantastic guest speakers throughout the evening. It was inspiring to hear about the valuable work of rangers and researchers in the Kimberley.
The event started with a powerful Welcome to Country ceremony from respected Noongar elder Uncle Ben Taylor. Tim Nicol followed with a quick update on the history behind the fight to protect the Fitzroy River, then introduced Nyikina Mangala rangers Nathan and Redmond. Through an interesting Q&A session the audience heard what it's like to be a ranger caring for country.
“To protect the sawfish we put out nets and check them every hour so the sawfish don’t drown and the crocs won’t eat them. We tag them, release them. Size them up check how big the rostrums are, check how many teeth they got.
“We use water loggers and tags on them to see where they go because they come up into the fresh water to breed in the warmer waters and go out to the ocean to live most of their life."
We next heard from Team Sawfish scientists from Murdoch University, Dr Adrian Gleiss and pHD candidate Karissa Lear. Adrian began by enthusiastically explaining some background information on sawfish, and why they are thriving in the Fitzroy River.
"The Fitzroy is quite an exceptional nursery...there is a strong link between how much water there is in the system and how many juveniles we're finding.
"We catch an average of 100 times more sawfish (per unit net per unit tonne) than anyone else does in the world!"
We learned about the innovative tagging program Karissa has developed. By installing custom-made trackers (the same technology as in a Fitbit) on Freshwater Sawfish juveniles, she hopes to find out how they respond to fluctuations in temperature and water levels.
"This gives us new information like where they are at in the river, what depth they are at, how hot the river is, how hot their body temperature is...so you can get a lot of information how they are using different pools in the river and different areas within the pools. That can be really helpful in telling us which habitats are important for sawfish."
Two new campaign videos were premiered to the audience, which summarised some of the information that had been shared by the speakers throughout the night.
Finally, the event could not be complete without the obligatory group shot of the wonderful crowd!
*We've put more photos from the event up on our Facebook page, click here to check them out
Feeling inspired to help protect the Fitzroy River and its endangered Sawfish? Please take action here!