We can thank a little fish swimming in a bucket of water on his family’s cattle farm for inspiring Daniel Stoessel to become a Fish Ecologist.

This week is National Science Week, Australia's annual celebration of science and technology.

To celebrate we’re getting to know more about one of our very own scientists at the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) for Environmental Research.

"Straight away I was fascinated by this little thing which was alive underwater; how was it breathing?" Daniel said.

"I remember it vividly, and at two or three-years old it created a real wonder about fish."

Daniel Stoessel is now the Acting Senior Scientist and Program Leader, Aquatic Biodiversity with the ARI.

He particularly credits his grandfather for instilling in him a passion for the environment. His grandfather would relate stories of the abundance of fish in rivers when he was a child, and how things had drastically changed in just two generations.

When the time came for Daniel to think about university, he picked up a prospectus which just happened to fall open on the page describing the Degree of Fisheries Management and Aquaculture.

He now manages a team of three scientists who are taking care of 400 fish, 120 mussels and 80 crayfish, survivors of the Gippsland fires earlier this year.

The rivers and creeks were awash with silt and ash which stripped the water of oxygen, potentially suffocating the fish, mussels and crayfish.

He says the mussels were buried in eight inches of silt and ash. Daniel says with the fish, crayfish and mussels already endangered and limited in distribution, the event could have resulted in complete extinction of some species.

"The idea was that we’d get them out of the wild, get them  into captivity, and essentially give them a holiday away from all the bad stuff, look after them and when things return to normal we’ll take them back to the rivers to essentially set up the next generation of individuals so these species don’t become extinct," he said.

After 20 years with DELWP, Daniel says it’s given him an opportunity to follow his passion and make a difference.

"A lot of devoted people are involved in this and the great results we are getting is thanks to them,” he said.

"Without the team there are no successes."

You can find out more about the ARI here: https://www.ari.vic.gov.au/

Page last updated: 21/08/20