Environment DNA traces deliver eel-y breakthrough in hunt for endangered animals

DNA traces deliver eel-y breakthrough in hunt for endangered animals

Scientists have developed a new tracking method to end a particularly tricky game of hide-and-seek with one of Australia’s most curious creatures.

The Blind Cave Eel lives exclusively in the underground water systems of the Pilbara and is particularly adept at evading environmental surveys.

However, new tests that can detect animals by the DNA traces they leave in the water have found the eel in five new locations.

The environmental DNA tests, developed by The University of Adelaide and Curtin University, can also be used to track and record the presence of other endangered or hard-to-find animals.

Dr Michelle Guzik said the non-invasive tests could increase the speed and scientific rigour of biological surveys.

With no eyes and unpigmented skin, the Blind Cave Eel is the largest of Australia’s three known cavefish species – growing up to 40cm long.

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