Daly River 2019

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wonderwobler
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Daly River 2019

Post by wonderwobler » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:57 am

The river is undoubtedly the life blood of the environment and the various habitats that sustains all the life forms in and around it. This year the river is ill, the seasonal flooding of the river catchment did not happen, to the disappointment of many anglers run off fishing was non-existent, the annual barra competitions produced the lowest catch rates ever.

As I write this at first glance the river looks OK, but closer observation reveals the illness. The river height is very very low and the accompanying flow rate so slow it almost appears to be stopped. In fact I have noted that on a few of the river gauging stations a mark bearing the title CTF has appeared on the graphs, CTF means Ceased To Flow.
With this lack of water coming down the river the tidal influence is increasing and saline water is reaching further up the river, users of the river have experienced an upstream flow of the in reaches of the river that in the past have always maintained a down stream flow even on the biggest tides. Those who pump from the river for their domestic use are only doing so on lower tides.

Of course without the rain the flood plains and vast network of tributaries that form the catchment that provides habitat for an unknown number of lifeforms that create the chain of life is also ill. I have for the first time observed algae blooms in small permanent billabongs, also the very noticeable lack of lotus lilies in water that always had lots of these plants. In the river the ribbon grass is all but non existent, the riparian Forrest is also suffering, trees that normally bloom aren't.
These bodies of water are nurseries for many species of fish, fish that normally come and go from the river, this biomass has had its life cycle interrupted, and this as we know includes barra.

The lack of fish of all types is apparent, at this time of year I am accustomed to seeing large schools of diamond scale mullet on the sand flats when they migrate up the river into the freshwater, not this year.
Smaller species like rainbows, gudgeons and others that normally teem in the billabongs are noticeably sparse in number.

Cherabin, the major food source for many fish, amphibious animals and birds have not successfully spawned, the migration of cherabin hatchlings upstream did not occur, this obviously has had a huge impact on the river habitat and more than likely is a factor in the low barra numbers in the river.

It’s not only the fish suffering, birds are easier to observe and note their reaction to the river being ill, things like the sea eagles don’t successfully breed due to the lack of fresh fish for their young, the various egrets and herons also have the same problem, kingfishers likewise, who knows what impact this has on the turtles and crocs.

Visitation rates of anglers is also at an all-time low, the nomads are not spending their time or money at the Daly, cherabin are very difficult to catch and the river is quite treacherous to navigate even for those who are familiar with the river. Territorian anglers are also fishing else ware for different fish in the salt water, the low number of barra related posts on this web site is a sure sign of things.
Fishing Tour Operators who in the past numbered up to 30 individual guides working the river has cancelled clients and struggle to put clients onto fish, on my last two recent visits to the boat ramp during premium tides there was a single boat trailer in the car park.

What this lack of recruitment of fish and food holds for the future remains to be seen, mathematically it is logical to expect that it would take a number of consecutive normal wet seasons to cure the rivers illness, but Mother Nature is a volatile entity sometimes a real bitch other times a loving creature, we will have to wait and see if she treats the illness.



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Jeno
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Re: Daly River 2019

Post by Jeno » Thu Jun 13, 2019 2:36 pm

Yes it is sad to hear the state of the river.....hopefully a we will get a wet season at the end of the year and things will improve. A stable climate and reliable monsoonal rainfall is what sustains the Top End environment....without the monsoon the Top End would basically be a desert meeting the sea.
No matter where you go, there you are!

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Re: Daly River 2019

Post by al57 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:22 pm

thats horrible news for everybody involved in the fishing and farming industry around that area

wonderwobler
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Re: Daly River 2019

Post by wonderwobler » Mon Nov 18, 2019 2:54 pm

Its mid-November, the afternoon temperature has hovered around the end of the thirties for weeks, humidity as low as 10% with winds mostly from the southern quarter, basically it’s hot and dry, 23mm of rain since May.
To say the river is low and slow is an understatement, a bl..dy hovercraft screamed its way along the river a week ago, probably the only way to travel any distance on the water, I hope it’s not a sign of the times, anything that you have to wear earmuffs to operate has no place on a wilderness river.

Life in the river appears to be minimal, the always present archer fish under my pontoon seem to be very low in numbers. Crocs aren’t active looking for love and nesting. I took a researcher out looking for turtles over a couple of days last month, struth it was hot down in the ditch, we both had “moments” when it was nearly too much to bear, the turtles felt hot.
The country around here is parched, billabongs are drying up or shrinking to levels no one can remember seeing, the cattle and buffalos are eating trees by pushing them over to reach the foliage, the undergrowth of the bush is barren, even the wallabies look skinny.

We are not immune of the drought that grips the continent. There may be a tinge of green around some parts of the topend but if this isn’t our version of drought I hope we never see the real thing.
As for barra, what’s left of the Daly biomass will be schooling up in Anson Bay and the river delta wanting to do their version of shagging, expecting a change in the salinity as freshwater comes flowing down the river into the sea so their babies can swim up river feeding on the billions of cherabin that have hatched after their journey downstream in eggs on the freshwater flood.

Only if it rains.

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Re: Daly River 2019

Post by jeffish » Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:40 am

Another fine read WW , Rain soon I hope :fishing:

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Matt Flynn
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Re: Daly River 2019

Post by Matt Flynn » Tue Nov 19, 2019 2:41 pm

Great read, despite the sombre content.

I hope this wet season is a bumper, as a consecutive near-record poor Wet would give everyone the heebie jeebies.

There aren't consecutive near-record low Wets in the long-term rain record that I can see, and BOM says they aren't expecting the Top End to lose rainfall overall.

Wouldn't surprise me if there was a record flood, given the wacko weather elsewhere.

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Re: Daly River 2019

Post by NinjaFish » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:29 pm

According to a trusted senior source from a particular establishment that has been studying the records for the last 30 years, the Monsoon left Indonesia a few weeks later than usual. It was an exceptional wet apparently for them and records seem to show that when Indonesia has a good wet, Northern Australia follows with the same result from the same system. Again, apparently. Mid January is when its expected to arrive proper and the expectation is a normal > good wet!

Blowing like the dry here the last few days.

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