Baby sunfish up the creek

They say you should never mix work with pleasure. That is exactly what I did a few weeks back.
On New Year's Day, Casey Gibson (see photo) uploaded an amazing observation of a tiny Sunfish. Colleagues from the Australian Museum and I were very interested in the observation because it's rare to have the opportunity to study a juvenile sunfish.
Sunfish researcher Marianne Nyegaard stated, "This is a very exciting find as young sunfish below 40 cm are seen so rarely in Australia. Superficially it looks like a Mola alexandrini, but genetics would be the best way to identify it for sure. I only know of one comparable specimen – a 27.5 cm Mola alexandrini at TePapa in Wellington, so I will be so very keen to examine this little beauty!"
The fish was originally seen on New Year's Eve in the Currarong Creek Hole, near Dolphin Reserve. Casey's neighbour, Joy Dowse, heard about it from her son and his friend who saw it floating in the water. It then washed up at high tide on the concrete ramp (in the background of the above photo) the following day.
Joy said "the fish looked freshly dead". She took a photo and uploaded it to Facebook.
On 3 January the fish was sighted again. Casey had previously told Joy and her husband Merv that she was searching for it. Luckily, they spotted their other neighbour scooping it out of the creek to put into the bin. They retrieved it and the fish made its way into Casey's freezer and Casey uploaded the observation to the Australasian Fishes Project.
I saw Casey's observation, which triggered many text messages, emails and phone calls. I had already planned a short trip down the coast, so several weeks later found myself knocking on Casey's front door in Currarong. The cling-wrapped fish (see photo) was retrieved from the freezer and packed in a polystyrene box for the road trip back to Sydney.
A day later I was standing in front of another front door, that of Australian Museum Fish Section Technical Officer Kerryn Parkinson who kindly agreed to take the fish into the museum. The fish has now completed its journey to the museum and is awaiting processing and registration into the research collection where it will be available for examination by experts.
Marianne Nyegaard stated, "I lived in Australia for over 15 years and travelled all over, but never went to Sydney – I always thought I would wait for a really cool reason to go, and now there certainly is one!!". Hopefully, Marianne will get the chance to travel to Sydney sometime soon where she too could combine business with pleasure.
It would be remiss of me to finish this journal entry without sending Casey a big thank you for all her time and effort to make the sunfish available for research. Thank you Casey! And while I am singing her praises, I should direct you to Casey's profile page where you can read about her other non-fishy research pursuits.
Posted by markmcg markmcg, February 06, 2022 09:38


Great article and nice find! William

Posted by williamwisephoto 6 months ago (Flag)

Thank you @williamwisephoto :)

Posted by markmcg 6 months ago (Flag)

Really great story. It proves there is scientific adventure right at our doorsteps.

Posted by harryrosenthal 6 months ago (Flag)

Agreed @harryrosenthal :)

Posted by markmcg 6 months ago (Flag)

@markmcg such a lovely story, and really awesome this fish made it into the museum collection. Well done to all who played a part! Can't wait to come over :)

Posted by mnyegaard 6 months ago (Flag)

You'll be very welcome @mnyegaard. :)

Posted by markmcg 6 months ago (Flag)

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