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This teen braved barbs to relocate fish from drying watering holes — by hand. He's our hero.

13-year-old Stuart Moodie is inspiring his community by saving hundreds of fish from their dried-up river.

This teen braved barbs to relocate fish from drying watering holes — by hand. He's our hero.

As mankind continues to wreak havoc on the planet, it is our wildlife and diverse habitats that are suffering most. In far northern New South Wales, the Mole River is at the risk of drying out. The stagnant water has threatened the fish that live in the river. Thankfully, a courageous environmental hero has stepped in to save the day. Stuart Moodie, at just 13 years old, spends the majority of his free time wading into the stagnant and almost-dry water to rescue native fish—with his bare hands. To date, the young teenager has managed to save over a whopping 100 native fish, reports ABC News.



Stuart is from Tenterfield, New South Wales, where a vicious drought is ravaging the river in his family's farm. Therefore, he has bravely taken up the important responsibility of saving the fish in the river, one fish at a time. Once he picks up a fish, little Stuart plops it into larger, life-saving dams where it can freely swim about. He began doing so after a neighbor taught him how to hand-catch fish. He has since refined his technique and now relies entirely on his sense of touch. He told ABC News, "I've been going down early every day after school and catching the catfish and cod and taking them out and putting them in a dam, keeping them alive as much as I can."



He truly has built a skill of hand-catching fish. "I got used to getting in the waterhole nearly each day," he explained. "[I] got used to the fish feeling me and every time they touched me I push their head into the mud. It's just easiest to keep them calm and catch them." After he found this pastime, he has had some truly memorable experiences. Stuart shared, "I caught a 123-centimeter carp and it just knocked me over. I just face-planted into the water... Then with the catfish, every time I go grab them I just get spiked. And the cod, one grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go and [I was] sitting there with the cod on my hand." Now that's something.

According to his father John Claydon, Stuart is a boy simply born to fish. He has apparently loved fishing ever since he could walk. In fact, by the tender age of four, he had already caught his first "proper" cod, measuring 59 centimeters. "It's just something he likes and enjoys," his father stated. "He just can't see the sense in the fish dying when he can be down here catching them and moving them... He's just got a bit of motivation and drive to do this thing. That's just what he loves. He's never watched television apart from National Geographic and the nature animal shows." He also shared some details of how his son's rescue mission works. "Now the waterholes are absolutely buggered [the fish are] just dying in the waterholes they are so stagnant," he said. "We have a couple of dams he is holding them in."



The teenager's part-time hobby has since caught the local community's attention, even Tenterfield Mayor Peter Petty's. The politician said of Stuart, "It is kids like Stuey the community is really proud of. He is mature beyond his years and he is really concerned about the situation down there because he lives there. I think he will be a role model in the future." Scientists, too, have been inspired by Stuart's proactive approach. Fisheries biologist Dr. Daniel Boucher from Southern Cross University stressed, "Ideally the best solution would be to be able to take those fish into a healthy environment where you can catch them again when the rainfall comes back and put them back in the system. So some off-site facility where you can treat them... What we really need is a plan, the right infrastructure, and we need the staff in freshwater systems to be able to get our ecosystems through these catastrophes." Since September, the New South Wales government has relocated more than 1,600 fish from across the state as part of its $10 million fish rescue strategy. But little Stuart just hopes to go fishing again soon. "I'm praying a lot really so I can let them go, and the river flows again, and I can go fishing really," he said.


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