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In 1972 Lake Pedder in south-west Tasmania was submerged under 15 metres of water as a result of the Tasmanian State Government’s Middle Gordon Hydro-electric Power Scheme. The lake was subsumed into a much larger artificial impoundment formed by three rockfill dams, making it the largest freshwater lake in Australia. The Tasmanian government transferred the name Lake Pedder to the new impoundment. Three species endemic to the original Lake Pedder were recorded as extinct as a consequence of the lake’s flooding. The Lake Pedder planarian, a species of carnivorous flatworm, the Lake Pedder earthworm, and the Pedder galaxias, a small freshwater fish, disappeared from the lake area after the inundation of this unique habitat, the site of a number of ecologically valuable faunal communities. The divergent fates of these animals, their status as lost species and their significance as creatures both meaningful and meaning-making, marks out an extinction matrix suggesting that the absence of specific animals and specific experiences and ways of life matter more than others, that specific deaths can be more readily incorporated into stories of loss and restoration, and that the perceived malleability of habitats invariably involves death inscribed as sacrifice or justifiable casualties. This paper seeks to retrieve some of the perspectives and experiences forgotten or written over in the lake’s stories of flooding and redemption.
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