Ken's deepsea treasure trove

You may have noticed some recent observations that show specimen photos of deepsea fishes (see image gallery). I thought you might be interested in some background information about these records and why observations of dead deepsea fishes are being added to the Australasian Fishes Project.
Ken Graham (view profile) had a long career with NSW DPI (Fisheries). During much of this time he worked aboard the Fisheries Research Vessel Kapala. Between 1975 and about 2000 Ken took thousands of photos of trawled organisms to aid identifications when compiling species lists for research trawls off New South Wales.
He has donated a huge number of specimens to the Australian Museum, not only fishes but also starfish, shells, crabs, urchins, prawns, octopus, scallops, corals and sea cucumbers. Click here to view a post on the Australian Museum website about Ken’s donations to the museum.
Ken is a true naturalist, being interested in just about all animal groups. Indeed, he has 13 species named after him: 6 fishes and 7 invertebrates. Ken’s observations have greatly enhanced our knowledge of the New South Wales marine biodiversity, with MANY new species described based on specimens he collected while working on the Kapala and other vessels.
Ken is now an Australian Museum Research Associate. He comes into the museum regularly and continues his ichthyological studies that have included co-authoring some papers describing new species. He has single-handedly identified nearly 5000 lots* of specimens in the fish collection.
I’d like to sincerely thank Ken and for the huge amount of effort he has put into this work. Not only did he have the initiative and foresight to take the photos in the first place, but he has recently spent much time compiling and checking the associated data and cleaning/tidying up the images. Ken will progressively upload most of his images/observations which will substantially increase the species count of the Australasian Fishes Project.
Ken kindly supplied the following information about his observations.
• Most specimens were caught in demersal (bottom) trawls with capture/seabed depths ranging from about 20 m to over 1200 m. Ultimately, almost all species caught in demersal trawls by the Kapala were photographed.
• Photos of some species caught by midwater trawls** are being uploaded, but they represent only a small proportion of all species taken by that method. Midwater trawls were frequently towed over abyssal depths (> 2000 m) but the net did not fish deeper than about 600 m; estimated capture depths or depth ranges are therefore given for midwater captures.
• In the pre-digital age, Kodachrome 64 colour slides were a cost-effective means of recording the fish fauna – cheaper than colour prints; and being positives, they could easily be viewed in the field when needed for quick reference.
• Most specimens were frozen at sea; later thawed and photographed ashore on a white background in natural light using a hand-held Pentax SLR camera. Best results were achieved on days with high cloud or overcast so little or no shadows were cast.
• Over 70% of specimens are lodged in the fish collection of the Australian Museum, Sydney, and some are in the CSIRO, Hobart collection.
• The approx. 1500 images were subsequently digitised by @johnpog. Where necessary, the digital images being uploaded into iNaturalist were “Photoshopped” to remove any strong colour cast; blemishes or marks that had accumulated during the life of the slide were also digitally removed.
* A ‘lot’ of fishes is any number of specimens of a single species collected at the same place and time, by the same collectors, using the same method.
** As its name implies, a midwater trawl captures fishes well above the bottom in the midwaters between the surface and seabed.
Thank you also to @harryrosenthal for the considerable amount of work he put into this project.
Posted on November 11, 2021 01:25 AM by markmcg markmcg


I LOVE these -- thank you so much for uploading such tremendous high quality observations. So wonderful. :)

Posted by sambiology over 2 years ago

It is a remarkable contribution to the project, and reflects so many hours and years of dedicated work. It is wonderful to see them in the project collection.

Posted by harryrosenthal over 2 years ago

This is great! So good to see.

Posted by lachlan_fetterplace over 2 years ago

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