Monitoring River Blackfish in the Gellibrand River

In 2018, researchers from Deakin University received funding from your Recreational Fishing Licence fees to establish a southern river blackfish spawning recruitment monitoring network in the Gellibrand River catchment. This project will provide new information on the native fish and how to strengthen the population.

Over the past year, the researchers have been busy developing a camera system to monitor the spawning of river blackfish in the Gellibrand River Catchment. Now, the time has come for field tests of the equipment before deployment during blackfish spawning season.

Last weekend, the camera equipment was setup and trialled in some ‘trying’ conditions on the Gellibrand. The equipment was tested in the river and in tanks at a local farm and the first images of the project were recorded.

While the river was running dirty and high, it did show the capabilities of the camera in these kinds of conditions and viewing inside the pipe/substrate appeared to be possible. One of the cameras did succumb to a rising river level, however, upon retrieval the computer was still on despite being submerged for several hours. After drying out, the researchers were, thankfully, able to retrieve the data from the SD card. This trial has identified the need for some longer posts to mount the cameras on.

The test of equipment in tanks at Stephen Mueller’s farm were also greatly successful. The first images of blackfish were taken and the researchers were pretty excited by the images obtained by this equipment. At Stephen Mueller’s farm, the researchers also conducted the first trial of connecting the cameras to Wi-Fi and remotely accessing them. There were some technical difficulties due to connection and weak signals, however, the researchers were able to set up a camera, remotely log in and enable the unit to take photos and videos before sending the collected images back online.

The next goal is to transmit the Wi-Fi signals, through a repeater station, in order to send the signals over greater distances from the river or dam back to an internet access point. 

Towards the end of October, the researchers are planning to deploy the cameras for the upcoming spawning season, between November and January.

Keen to learn more about the project?
Contact: Dr. Travis Howson
River Blackfish Monitoring Project, Deakin University
[email protected]

Blackfish in tank
Inside the Spawning box setup
Camera placed in waterway

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