The iconic Giant Freshwater Lobster (Astacopsis gouldi) is the world’s largest freshwater crustacean and northern Tasmania is the only place in the world that you will find it.
Protected by state and national threatened species laws, the north-eastern populations of Giant Freshwater Lobster face threats of land clearing, habitat disturbance, poaching and large-scale sedimentation of waterways, but little is known about the current status of its habitat and populations in the north-east of the state.
NRM North’s Giant Freshwater Lobster Citizen Science program aims to fill key knowledge gaps by training community volunteers to undertake habitat assessments and water quality monitoring in north-east Tasmania. The program is a part of the Partnerships for Giant Freshwater Lobster Recovery project supported by NRM North, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Giant Freshwater Lobster expert, Todd Walsh, said the project has already identified some localised population hotspots, which has greatly increased known numbers in the region. “The citizen science program will help to find more of the existing population but also give information about the overall habitat in the north-east,” Mr Wash said.
There has been great enthusiasm from the community to learn about the species and contribute to the project, whilst taking the opportunity to explore their local rivers and streams. Since the start of the NRM North project, 34 community members have been trained with the appropriate skills and knowledge to begin collecting much-needed habitat data.
NRM North Biodiversity Coordinator, Lauren Bird said,
“the Citizen Science Program will help us to not only gather data on the current condition of waterways in the north-east but aid us in understanding where on-ground habitat restoration works are most-needed to benefit Giant Freshwater Lobster.”
Giant Freshwater Lobster can live up to 60 years and are very slow to grow, leaving them particularly vulnerable to predators in their juvenile years. They rely on streams with cool, shaded water, in-stream rocks and fallen logs free from sediment layers to provide protection, a food source and low disturbance levels.
“If landholders are interested in river rehabilitation works for their property, NRM North currently has funding available for fencing and revegetation works in priority sections of the Pipers, Brid and Boobyalla catchments and we’d love to hear from you”, Ms Bird said.
NRM North will continue to hold community events and citizen science training and information days for their Giant Freshwater Lobster Recovery project throughout the year. If you would like to know more about the project or the Citizen Science program, contact the NRM North office on (03) 6333 7777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.