AusOcean partners with RecFish SA and Pembroke School to monitor Murray cod

High school students from Pembroke School built a low-cost research buoy, known as a Rig, to monitor the endangered Murray cod in Happy Valley Reservoir as part of AusOcean's school program Network Blue. This collaborative effort between AusOcean, RecFish SA, and Pembroke School aims to gather crucial data to aid in the conservation of this iconic Australian species.

The Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) is Australia's largest freshwater fish and has significant cultural and ecological importance. Historically abundant in the Murray-Darling Basin, the species has faced severe declines due to overfishing, habitat destruction, and changes in river flow patterns. Recognizing the urgent need for conservation, various initiatives have been implemented to protect and restore Murray cod populations. The species is currently listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Efforts to reintroduce Murray cod into reservoirs and other suitable habitats have been ongoing. Happy Valley Reservoir is one location where these efforts have been concentrated. The hope is that with careful monitoring and habitat management, the Murray cod can once again thrive in these waters.

Students walk their Rig down to the water.

The Rig constructed by the students is equipped with an underwater camera attached to a "cod pod" built by RecFish SA. Murray cod prefer dark, secluded areas for breeding, and the barrel aims to provide an optimal breeding environment. The underwater camera offers a unique opportunity to capture and study breeding behaviors, potentially for the first time in Australia.

The "Cod Pod" built by RecFish SA

This project represents a significant step forward in marine conservation and education. By involving high school students in hands-on scientific research, it not only fosters a sense of environmental stewardship but also provides valuable real-world experience in marine biology and engineering.

The construction of the Rig was completed and deployed this month. The data collected from this innovative project will be invaluable in informing future conservation strategies for the Murray cod and ensuring the survival of this remarkable species for generations to come.

Pembroke students discuss their project

AusOcean is a not-for-profit ocean research organisation that supports open source practices. Open source approaches to tackling environmental issues means embracing collaborative tools and workflows which enables processes and progress to be fully transparent. A critical aspect of working open is sharing data not only with your immediate team but with others across the world who can learn, adapt and contribute to collective research. By contributing to, and supporting open practices within the scientific community, we can accelerate research and encourage transparency. Learn more at

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