Shaw Galaxias, Galaxias gunaikurnai Raadik 2014

Shaw Galaxias, Galaxias gunaikurnai. Source: Tarmo A. Raadik. License: All rights reserved

A stout-bodied dusky to brownish galaxias covered in darker blotches and bands, some forming almost chevron-like bars along the sides, with translucent fins, translucent gill covers with a golden patch, and a coppery-gold iris.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Galaxias gunaikurnai in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Mar 2023,

Shaw Galaxias, Galaxias gunaikurnai Raadik 2014

More Info


Restricted to a small section of the headwaters of Shaw Creek, a tributary of the Caledonia River (Macalister River catchment) in the coastal Gippsland region of Victoria, at an elevation of 1,470 m asl, within the Alpine National Park, Victoria. Historically, the species is considered have been more widespread in the upper reaches of the Caledonia River system..
Inhabits a small, cool, clear, alpine creek, flowing through a grassy plain, consisting of pools, glides and riffles, with smaller amounts of small cascades, and with very little shading except that provided by grasses. Substrate consisted of bedrock, boulder, cobble, with smaller amounts of pebble, gravel and coarse sand. Instream cover was predominantly provided by rocks and overhanging alpine grasses on the bank.


Body stout; head short (20.0–20.7 % SL), wide and deep; snout long (29.2–32.0 % HL); nostrils short, not visible from ventral view; dorsal surface usually flattened forward of pelvic fins; area between eyes broad, distinctly flattened or concave; snout long, head short behind eyes. 
Dorsal and anal-fin bases short, fins about equal in size, moderately long with short fin base; dorsal fin set far back on body; dorsal-fin origin well in advance of anal-fin origin. Pectoral and pelvic fins generally rounded, with fleshy bases; pectoral fins paddle-shaped, low on body; pelvic fins positioned midway along body; caudal fin relatively short, shorter than length of caudal peduncle.


This species is able to survive in very cold water (< 5 degrees Celsius) during winter when the catchment is covered by snow for periods of time.


IUCN: Critically Endangered
Victoria: listed as Threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) Act (1988) in Victoria, and Critically Endangered under the Advisory List of Threatened Vertebrate Fauna In Victoria (DSE 2013).
Australian Society for Fish Biology: Critically Endangered

Research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub determined that the Shaw Galaxias faces the highest threat of extinction of freshwater fishes across Australia.
The Shaw Galaxias is particularly threatened by predatory alien Brown Trout (Salmo trutta), which have been moving upstream into the headwaters of Shaw Creek. The galaxias population occurs above an instream barrier that was constructed to prevent the upstream movement of trout. 
The species may also suffer the impacts of drought, bushfire, sedimentation and the ongoing effects of climate change, along with the reduction in quantity and quality of habitat.


The species is named gunaikurnai after the Gunai/Kurnai Indigenous Nation, the traditional inhabitants of the Gippsland region of Victoria. Galaxias gunaikurnai is found within the country of the Brayakuloong people, one of the five major clans. The vernacular name ‘Shaw Galaxias’ refers to the type locality: Shaw Creek in the Bennison High Plains, Victoria.

Species Citation

Galaxias gunaikurnai Raadik 2014, Zootaxa 3898(1): 63, fig. 15. Type locality: Shaw Creek, at walking track off Howitt Road at the Gorge, Bennison High Plains, Alpine National Park, Victoria, 37°23'39"S 146°44'51"E.


Bray, D.J. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Shaw Galaxias, Galaxias gunaikurnai Raadik 2014


Adams, M., Raadik, T.A., Burridge, C. & Georges, A.2014. Global biodiversity assessment and hyper-cryptic species complexes: more than one species of elephant in the room? Systematic Biology 63(4): 518-533. (as taxon 'SH')

Kuiter, R.H. 2013. Pictorial Guide to Victoria's Freshwater Fishes. Seaford, Victoria : Aquatic Photographics 178 pp. (as Galaxias sp. 14)

Lintermans, M. 2016. Conservation Status of Australian Fishes – 2016. . Australian Society for Fish Biology Newsletter 46(2): 142-144.

Raadik, T.A. 2011. Systematic revision of the Mountain Galaxias, Galaxias olidus Günther, 1866 species complex (Teleostei: Galaxiidae) in eastern Australia. PhD Thesis, University of Canberra. (as taxon 'shaw')

Raadik, T.A. 2014. Fifteen from one: a revision of the Galaxias olidus Günther, 1866 complex (Teleostei, Galaxiidae) in south-eastern Australia recognises three previously described taxa and describes 12 new species. Zootaxa 3898 (1): 1-198.

Raadik, T. 2019. Galaxias gunaikurnai . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T122902325A123382116. Downloaded on 05 February 2020.

Quick Facts

Conservation:IUCN Critically Endangered

Habitat:Freshwater streams

Max Size:10.4 cm


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