Spring isn’t just a fertile time for the birds and the bees, it’s also a busy season for carp as well.
“Carp really do behave like no other fish in this part of the world at this time of the year,” said Woo O’Reilly, the facilitator of Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch.
The group is encouraging locals to capture photos and footage of carp doing the deed.
“It’s not as sinister as it sounds. It’s just very valuable,” Ms O’Reilly said.
“We can see what’s going on and learn so much from video and photographs.”
Carp, being aquatic pests, happen to be a major problem in the Murray-Darling catchment.
Ms O’Reilly said mapping carp hotspots helped to understand their behaviour and identify opportunities for control.
“They will go to the shallow, warmer waters around the edges of wetlands and rivers,” she told ABC Radio Canberra’s Genevieve Jacobs.
“There’s a splash on the surface and they will throw their eggs onto the vegetation that’s coming out of the waterways.”
Ms O’Reilly said the splashing was a distinctive characteristic of carp breeding and they could produce up to 1.5 million eggs in a season.
“No other fish does this, so if you’re at a waterway and hear this splashing sound … just remember that’s carp.”
Footage will help manage the aquatic pest
Carp Love 20C is the name of the campaign, which Ms O’Reilly says derives from carp’s tendency to display breeding behaviour when water temperatures reach around 20C.
People are advised to share their photos or videos of carp mating or simply swimming in big groups on the Waterwatch Facebook and Twitter pages to help with future research.
The details will also help targeting the aquatic pest with control measures such as the carp herpes virus.
“Where they release the virus is crucial. If the virus gets approval for release and they’re putting it in places where carp are breeding, that is great because you could potentially knock out 1.5 million eggs in one go,” Ms O’Reilly said.
Even if people don’t have a phone with them, they can still do their part by observing the size and location of the fish and uploading the details to the FeralFishScan app.