CANBERRA, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- One thousand native fish have been released into a South Australian river system 15 years after drought caused their local extinction.
A team of ecologists from organizations including the Nature Glenelg Trust, University of Adelaide and Flinders University on Friday released the genetically tested and vet-checked Yarra pygmy perch into enclosures in the Murray River near Hindmarsh Island -- more than 50 km south of Adelaide.
Endemic to Australia, the reclusive perch grows to only 7.5 cm in length.
They were first found in the South Australian arm of the Murray River -- Australia's longest river and part of the agriculturally significant Murray-Darling Basin -- in 2002 but became locally extinct in 2008 amid the worst drought in recorded Australian history.
Individuals rescued from receding lakes and rivers have been held in surrogate dams since, with nurturing and breeding programs keeping the species alive.
The 1,000 released on Friday will remain in their enclosures for three weeks to acclimatize to the river before being released into the wild.
"Fingers crossed they'll do really well out in the areas where we're releasing them because there is a lot of vegetation out there," Sylvia Zukowski from the Nature Glenelg Trust told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Researchers conducted genetic testing on the fish to select the 1,000 individuals most likely to survive in the wild and all were checked by veterinarians as part of permit requirements.
"They haven't been found in the wild here for a long time and to be able to bring this species back basically from extinction in the Murray-Darling Basin is pretty amazing," Zukowski said. ■