Going batty

Article image - Going batty Volunteers help investigate the health of fishing bats and the waterways they live in.

Blacktown City Council in Sydney is investigating the health of fishing bats to find out more about the water quality in local creeks and waterways.

Council is investigating the threatened species Large-footed Myotis (Myotis macropus) with the help of volunteers, citizen scientists and experts.

“These tiny echolocating bats, also known as fishing bats, thrive on healthy waterways and use their relatively large feet to catch small fish and aquatic insects,” said Mayor Stephen Bali.

“So, the more we know about the bats, the more we will know about the health of our waterways.”

The program has been developed in partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Greater Sydney Local Land Services.

By linking stormwater education to a fun, outdoor project with a dynamic mascot like “Flappy the Fishing Bat” we have created a popular project that has helped engage our community.

“So far fishing bat project volunteers have contributed 465 volunteer hours towards the project and have enabled us to ‘Find Flappy’ at 20 out of 26 waterways surveyed across Blacktown City” said Environmental Project Officer Aimee Freimanis.

“This approach to engaging and educating has worked. All the community volunteers involved in the program agreed it ‘increased their knowledge about the impact of water pollution’ and ‘fostered a sense of stewardship to care for the environment in Blacktown’.

“The program has also made people more aware of the community’s responsibility,” said Mayor Bali.

“Those who took part are now informing Council about local pollution incidents such as sediment, spills and illegal dumping.

“They are also educating others in the community about how to care for catchments.

“We’ve also noticed that the participants now have a more positive attitude towards Council services and delivery including greater understanding and appreciation of the value of the Environmental Stormwater Management Service Charge.”