Whitebait run triggers feeding frenzy in Baia rivers

Locals have described whitebait runs that flood into rivers around Baia, in West New Britain, on most new moons during the dry season. On our recent trip we got to see this incredible phenomenon first hand. Millions of these tiny fish, each around 3cm long, school up in coastal waters before moving into the rivers on the new moon. Their arrival signals a feast for all the river dwellers, with fish of all shapes and sizes gorging themselves on this hugely abundant food supply for days on end. It seems as if everything from tiny juvenile trevally up to the largest black and spot-tail bass join in the feast. We believe these whitebait, a type of goby, enters the rivers as juveniles and migrate into freshwater streams where the adults live. The massive input of food that these migrating fish provide is likely to be important for the ecology of these rivers, and their ability to sustain large populations of black and spot-tail bass. We will investigate the whitebait and they role in ecosystems in more detail.



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