Two protected Australian lungfish illegally kept at a Gympie property and seized by Fisheries Queensland have been donated to Sea Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium.

The lungfish, named Alve and Neo, were found during a joint search by Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol and Queensland Police in October 2020, and have since been in the care of the Department of Environment and Science’s Queensland and Wildlife Service (QPWS).

Mark Furner, Minister for Agriculture Industry Development and Fisheries, said the fish were donated after a successful compliance investigation.

“There is a clear community expectation that these iconic Queensland lungfish are protected, and this is an important step for the conservation of this vulnerable species. Sea Life Sunshine Coast will use the lungfish for the purpose of education, research, and environmental protection. There are real benefits for both the community and the species’ future, by having these fish on display.”

Denice Askebrink, Sea Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium’s Displays Supervisor, said she welcomed the donation.

“These iconic and unique creatures are endangered in the wild due to habitat degradation and also, not many juveniles surviving to adult age.

“Just as the name suggests, this fish has a lung, as well as gills like a normal fish. But the most fascinating thing about these animals is that they can also encase their body in a cocoon made of mucus to remain moist when there is a drought, so they can survive until there is water back in the creeks and rivers.”

Following an investigation, it was revealed the resident of the Gympie property had also been unlawfully in possession of Australian lungfish eggs.

Furner said the detection of the eggs highlights the emerging black-market interest in Queensland’s endemic fish species such as lungfish.

“The detection of a significant quantity of Australian lungfish eggs is concerning and beyond what our fisheries officers normally see.”