Margaret River Hairy Marron

The Margaret River Hairy Marron (Cherax tenuimanus) is a critically endangered aquatic species found only in the Margaret River. The Margaret River Hairy Marron differs from introduced smooth marron because of the presence of small hairs (setae) on its hard upper shell.

Wild populations of the Margaret River Hairy Marron are now restricted to a few river pools in the upper reaches of the Margaret River and total numbers in the wild are thought to be as low as 1000 individuals. Threats to this species include competition and interbreeding with the smooth marron, habitat disturbance and poaching.

The Scary Hairy Decline Case Study provides information about the decline of hairy marron and efforts to conserve the species.


Conservation action to protect the hairy marron

Nature Conservation works with the Margaret River Hairy Marron Recovery Team to deliver conservation action, in accordance with the Draft Recovery Plan for the species.

Between 2013 and 2017 Nature Conservation worked in partnership with researchers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD)(previously the Department of Fisheries) to remove introduced smooth marron from critical habitats of the hairy marron in the upper reaches of the Margaret River. Assisted by local volunteers regular fish outs of smooth marron were undertaken over the 4 year period to assist survival of the wild hairy marron population. Nature Conservation has also coordinated habitat enhancement in the upper reaches of the river and delivered various community awareness activities to assist with conservation of the species.

In parallel Fisheries researchers have established captive breeding populations for the species and supported research to better understand the genetics and breeding requirements of the species.

The 2017 Hairy Marron Community Update provides details of conservation action work undertaken during 2017.

In late 2017 the Margaret River Hairy Marron Recovery Team made the decision that fish out activities were not succeeding in maintaining the wild population and future efforts should concentrate on the establishment of insurance populations (ark sites) and increasing the success of the captive breeding program. Nature Conservation remains a member of the Margaret River Hairy Marron Recovery Team and will assist where possible with the new conservation direction.

In early May 2019, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) advised that there continues to be in-principle support within the State Government Departments, for captive breeding and ark sites as conservation actions for the Hairy marron.

The Department of Water & Environmental Regulation have commenced the process of desktop searching for potential release (Ark) sites and are investigating water quality and other habitat variables at suitable water bodies identified through this process.

DPIRD continue to run a captive breeding program at their own Pemberton hatchery facilities, whilst Perth Zoo have been approached for involvement in an additional breeding program. The zoo has potentially identified a space for the Hairy marron within their collection and the hope is that they will commence a complementary breeding program later in the year.