I just received a letter from Per Ahlberg, who is working as the international coordinator in a campaign to save the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri, this magnificent creature:
Unfortunately, this species is threatened, and its situation is getting worse, as its habitat is at risk of destruction. As Dr Ahlberg put it:
Neoceratodus, which is the most tetrapod-like of living fishes and an invaluable source of information about the transition from fish to land vertebrates (particularly from an evo-devo perspective), is native only to the Mary and Burnett Rivers of Queensland. The adults usually live in deep pools, but they breed in shallow areas with lots of underwater vegetation. Because of the way water levels in dams fluctuate, you don’t get such shallow vegetated areas in dams, and accordingly there’s nowhere for the lungfish to breed. Downstream of the dam, reduced flow will lead to the drying out of established breeding areas, and because lungfish are very loyal to their old breeding sites – they often simply cease to breed if their old sites are lost – this is also likely to have a severe long-term impact on the population. On 5 July the Queensland Government approved a major dam on the Mary River. A dam on the Burnett River was approved in 2003 and is already under construction, so the lungfish has its back against the wall. The dam can still be stopped by the Federal government, as Neoceratodus is a protected animal, but they need to be persuaded to act. We have very little time.
I’ve got some contact information I can pass along to anyone who is seriously interested in helping out by putting pressure on Australian politicians or media—just drop me a line, and I can forward your message on or reply back with some names and email addresses.