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Budding water weed detectives join fight to protect river

A DESTRUCTIVE water weed has an army of new enemies.

The non-native aqua plant has been wreaking havoc in Townsville’s waterways, causing more than a tonne of fish to wash up dead in March this year.

It spreads like wild-fire, clogging up flowing water paths, causing flooding and killing wildlife.

But help is at hand – as a deadly mob of budding water weed detectives from Shalom are on the case.

After an invitation by NQ Dry Tropics, the group who look after the waterways in Townsville, the students spent a day kayaking and learning about the weed, called sagittari, and other devastating weeds.

The students took plastic bags and collected rubbish while they learned about the foreign weeds.

Sixteen year old Shalom student Gail Coolburra said: ‘We come here [around Loam Island in Kelso] to go swimming'.

‘Now we know about this stuff and the other weeds, we’ll be able to spot it and call the council.

‘We can tell our friends and family. This is serious stuff. We should all pull together to protect our native plants and wildlife from destructive foreign invaders'.

Early this year, more than 200 one-meter-long barramundis were found floating dead in the river.

In total one tonne of fish died after weeds sucked oxygen out of the water.

Even the usually steadfast eels were washing up dead.

Now efforts are being made to step-up community involvement, to get more eyes on the river to help the council protect it.

JJ Walker, from NQ Dry Tropics, organised and ran the event for Shalom's students.

She said: ‘I loved watching them learn and hearing them ask thoughtful questions about the Ross River ecosystem. 

‘Not only were they enthusiastic learners, by the end of the morning they were junior weed experts and rubbish warriors.

‘It felt special to be a part of the passing of knowledge to the next generation. I hope the students can take what they learned about today and be inspired to care for the land through conservation work or education.

'We'd like to set up a water monitoring programme with the school'.

Shalom Christian College wishes to thank JJ and NQ Dry Tropics for providing this learning opportunity for our students.

We look forward to working together again soon.

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