Boffins hope to save George and mates
SCIENTISTS are spending a million dollars to work out why George the groper’s mates have been dying.
The friendly giant of Dickson Inlet, George has so far survived the mysterious bacterial infection which has killed off more than 80 Queensland groper and still comes to the Inlet for his daily feed.
A collaboration of Australia’s best veterinarians, scientists and aqua culturists have begun a $930,000, three year project to investigate the mysterious bacterial infection which killed more than 40 gropers between Port Douglas and Bowen in 2009.
In 2008 two gropers were washed up on Low Isles, eight in the Inlet and one on Four Mile beach, all infected by the bacteria.
The new project will investigate whether the gropers become infected by eating contaminated food, by fish to fish contact or by infected waters.
Biosecurity Queensland veterinary officer Dr Rachel Bowater is leading the project.
Dr Bowater said that the development of diagnostic tests that detect the disease in fish will also assist with diagnosis in wild fish kills and aquaculture industries.
“This research will benefit the Queensland aquaculture industries by determining the impacts this wild fish bacterium may have on farmed reef fish such as Queensland groper, other reef fish and barramundi,” she said.
The investigation is still in early planning stages, however a number of infected and healthy fish have been sampled for the bacteria.
“Port Douglas is definitely one of the main geographical areas where a lot of the gropers are dying so there are a lot of unanswered questions, “Dr Bowater said.
On the Inlet restaurant at Port Douglas has been feeding the friendly giants every afternoon for years.
Staff member and groper wrangler Dylan Rice said local icon George still visits the restaurant for a feed, but other fish also show up.
Gulp: Port’s gropers appear to have been spared by the mystery bacterial illness which claimed 40
fish over the past two years