Standing up for our Skates – Friends of the Henty
The Maugean Skate is Tasmania’s largest endemic fish. These ancient Gondwanan relicts live only in the tannin-stained water of Macquarie Harbour where they have resided for countless generations. Sadly, they are one of the State’s most endangered marine species due to its limited range, climate change, and human changes to their habitat. With these ongoing threats, and impacts from recreational fishing, they face a very high risk of extinction.
For Strahan-based Wildcare group, ‘Friends of the Henty’, the Maugean Skate’s habitat is the backdrop to their lives. In sharing this waterway with the Skate, they feel an acute responsibility to be custodians and champions of this creature.
A community awareness project that was run between January and March 2023 by Cradle Coast NRM, displayed over 70 pieces of skate-focused art in businesses and public places around the town, raising local awareness and ownership of this creature. These artworks have now largely dispersed, and Friends of the Henty hope to continue bringing attention to the skate by raising funds to commission local artists to create works for permanent public display in Strahan.
The second phase will be a permanent art trail around the beautiful waterfront pathway, in collaboration with local school students. Very few people will ever see the skates in the water, so it is important for them to be appreciated on land.
As funding for scientific research on these animals is due to expire in 2024, Friends of the Henty will be actively supporting sufficient, predictable and long-term funding of scientific research programs and collaborating with these where possible.
Updates and photographs of the artwork will be posted on their fundraising page. By making a financial contribution, you are not only assisting the group to commission artwork, you are also sending a message to the Strahan community and visitors, that people from near and afar care about this creature and its fate, and encouraging them to stand up for it.
The Maugean Skate
The ancient Maugean Skate has been described as a relict species that has a Gondwanan lineage possibly dating back to the Cretaceious period (145 to 66 million years ago), a time before fish had bones! Their closest cousins (NZ Rough Skate – Zearaja nasuta) live in New Zealand and in South America (Yellownoe Skate – Zearaja chilensis), both land masses to which Tasmania was once connected. They are adapted to living in dark conditions as the strong tannin layer in Macquarie Harbour blocks out much of the light. They share many features with deep ocean skates even though they are generally found in relatively shallow water. Only Strahan locals, regular fishers in Macquarie Harbour, intrepid divers and researchers have encountered Maugean Skates face-to-face.
Learn more about the Maugean Skate here: Maugean Skate – Zearaja maugeana
Help friends of the Henty by making a contribution here: Fundraising – Friends of the Henty