Colony of rare mudfish rehomed
The finishing touches are being put on a new home for a colony of rare black mudfish, recently discovered in the Waikato.
A large population of the fresh water fish was found living in a drain that was in the path of the Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway.
Before construction work started, they were captured and moved to tanks at Waikato University, where they were cared for by a team of ecologists until workers finished creating a new habitat near their original swampland home.
NZ Transport Agency Waikato highway manager Kaye Clark said the mudfish would be released back into their new home in early September.
"Our contractor, Fletcher Construction, guided by ecologists, their environmental consultant Mike McConnell, designer MWH and the Department of Conservation are putting the final touches on the new habitat at the moment.
"It measures approximately 500 square metres, more than three times the size of the area the mudfish were initially found in.
"It includes native plants and a winding stream channel, surrounded by shallower wetland areas"
The workers had left an existing "perched" culvert in place, which was believed to have helped the colony survive by limiting access for predatory fish species.
Kessels Ecology senior freshwater ecologist Jennifer Price said the team had chosen to reintroduce the mudfish at the end of winter so the fresh water fish could establish themselves before summer.
The Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway is currently under construction and is expected to open in late 2016.