March 16, 2023

Juvenile Grey Demoiselle out of range

When Kirsty Wiseman saw a small fish in a rockpool at the southern end of Serenity Bay, New South Wales, she dipped her camera into the water to take photos.
It's a good thing she did because she captured photos of a juvenile Grey Demoiselle, Chrysiptera glauca, well south of its recognised distribution. According to the Australian Faunal Directory the species is recorded south to Minnie Water, northern New South Wales (29°47'S). The fish in Kirsty's observation is about 50km south of this.
To date, the Australasian Fishes Project has documented 31 observations of Chrysiptera glauca. A quick look at the distribution map shows Kirsty's observation located well south of the other observations of the species.
Thank you Kirsty for uploading your observation. It's now one of many observations that show a southern shift of their distributions that may result from climate change.
Posted on March 16, 2023 01:29 AM by markmcg markmcg | 2 comments | Leave a comment

March 06, 2023

Calling all keen anglers and fish experts

Following on from the journal post about the upcoming Port Macquarie bioblitz, Ted Giblin has provided some additional information.
We would like anglers who are going out on Friday 12th May and Saturday 13th May to record all the fish species they see.
On a normal fishing trip offshore, you might see 3 or 4 different types of fish, maybe lots more.
Let us know, so we can add them to our lists.
You can even take photos if you want - we'll use them.
If you are interested, feel free to drop me an email at, or phone me on 0487 690 439.
Posted on March 06, 2023 03:06 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 02, 2023

First record of a Shortbill Spearfish from the South Island of NZ

Cameron Eddy (see photo) caught this Shortbill Spearfish, Tetrapturus angustirostris, on 14th January 2023. It's possibly the first record of a Shortbill Spearfish caught recreationally off the South Island of New Zealand.
Pete Thomas is the Founder and Life President of the Hokitika Offshore Sports Fishing Club. In his words, "We headed out of Greymouth chasing Bluefin Tuna – after a slow day on the water with only a few Albacore landed we finally found a good current edge with some good bird activity. Trolling in the area had the short corner lure hit twice before it stuck. The fight was unusual for a Bluefin Tuna and we were shocked to get a billfish up to the boat! We immediately recognised it as a Shortbill Spearfish as it's quite a distinctive fish. It's not totally unexpected to find a billfish off the West Coast as Striped Marlin and Swordfish are known to be present, and with the highly elevated sea temperatures this season we were discussing the possibility of catching vagrant warm water species."
Pete also stated, "As far as we can find it is the first recorded South Island capture of a Shortbill Spearfish, but no longer the most southerly – that record has been subsequently taken by a fish caught out of Milford sound not long after."
The Shortbill Spearfish is an oceanic species that is rarely observed near the coast. In New Zealand the species is known from off the north and northeast of the North Island. In Australia the species has a wide distribution in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters.
This observation shows the value of citizen science and is yet another example of fishes being found in warm water south of their recognised distribution - perhaps further evidence of climate change.
Thank you to Clinton Duffy (@clinton) for uploading the observation.
Posted on March 02, 2023 01:14 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 15, 2023

Black Blenny - a new record for Norfolk Island

This small fish in the image above was photographed by Susan Prior (@susanprior) in Slaughter Bay, Norfolk Island. Susan couldn't identify the fish so she uploaded the observation identified simply as a 'Ray-finned Fish' to the Australasian Fishes Project.
Francois Libert (@francoislibert) subsequently correctly identified it to family, then Malcolm Francis (@francism) tentatively identified it as a Black Blenny, Enchelyurus ater. Malcolm tagged me for my input, so I referred the observation to Australian Museum Senior Fellow, Doug Hoese who confirmed Malcolm's tentative identification.
Malcolm was particularly interested in Susan's observation because for some years he has maintained a checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands. Malcolm noted that the Black Blenny had not previously been recorded from Norfolk Island.
This observation highlights the power of citizen scientists working with professional ichthyologists to achieve important outcomes. It also illustrates the fact that users shouldn't be afraid to upload observations of fishes that they can't identify. Most of the time someone will step up to the plate with an identification.
Thanks to everyone involved in bringing this new record to light.
Posted on February 15, 2023 02:16 AM by markmcg markmcg | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 08, 2023

Port Maquarie's first marine BioBlitz, May 2023

Save the dates!
Friday 12th to Saturday 13th of May 2023, the Rotary Club of Port Macquarie will be hosting Port Macquarie's first Marine Bioblitz. Visit the Project page.
Where and What?
The Bioblitz will target an area bounded by South West Rocks to the North and Port Macquarie to the south. Structured surveys will include:
  • 2 Pelagic surveys, departing from South West Rocks
  • 2-4 Dive surveys based along Port Macquarie coast (location and frequency dependent on conditions)
  • 2 Intertidal rock pool and beach combing surveys along Shelly Beach Port Macquarie
  • 2 Intertidal netting and beach combing surveys along Shelly Beach Port Macquarie
Who? We are seeking both participants and team leaders
Rotary are seeking members of the Australasian Fishes Project to participate in surveys, particularly dive or intertidal surveys, and shoreline netting at high tide- as a blitzer or a leader. Rotary have received interest from several schools and are also seeking experienced naturalists to lead or assist in surveys, to help with student engagement and identification. Rotary can assist attendees needing to travel through arranged billeting. Please contact Ted to discuss. Depending on demand, preference will be given to people able to lead or support community and school intertidal sessions.
The primary aim of the Bioblitz is for Rotary to lead environmental projects and to document marine and intertidal diversity by uploading observations of all plants and animals observed along the coastal zone, including the pelagic and intertidal.
The second aim is to engage with and build community. To this end we encourage everyone to participate. We already have enthusiastic responses from several schools, dive shops and higher education institutes.
Details and registration
Participants in the pelagic and dive surveys will, for the purposes of insurance and coordination, need to pre-register no later than 48 hours prior to the event. A nominal fee may be included to cover fuel costs to the pelagic zone. Divers will need to be certified open water and led by representatives from the local dive school.
Further Information
The Bioblitz is being coordinated by Dr Ted Giblin, @tedgiblin. He can be contacted on 0487690439 and
Posted on February 08, 2023 02:29 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 30, 2022

Blue Angelfish out of range

Martin Crossley has done it again!
Here's another fish observed well south of its recognised range.
The Blue Angelfish, Pomacanthus semicirculatus, is 'officially' recorded south to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia (28°30'S). Martin's observation at Rottnest Island is roughly 400 km south of this (32°02'S).
Thank you Martin for bringing the observation to my attention.
Posted on December 30, 2022 04:02 AM by markmcg markmcg | 8 comments | Leave a comment

December 12, 2022

Hookcheek Dwarfgoby - a new Australian record

In the lead-up to Christmas, I'm very pleased to let you know about another new fish record for Australia.
Anne Hoggett, Director of the Lizard Island Research Station, photographed a small goby in February 2018 and uploaded the observation in June 2020.
There was a fair amount of discussion about the identification of the fish in Anne's observation.
South Australian Museum fish guy @rfoster was the first to identify the fish as Eviota ancora. Australian Museum Senior Fellow and goby expert Doug Hoese confirmed the identification.
In addition to this record from Lizard Island, the species is also known from Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. View the species factsheet at Fishbase,
Anne's observation of the Hookcheek Dwarfgoby, along with hundreds of other records can also be viewed in the Lizard Island Field Guide.
Posted on December 12, 2022 06:20 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 07, 2022

200,000 observations - Woohoo!

The Australasian Fishes Project has cracked a huge milestone. Our project has passed 200,000 observations.
It happened so fast, I missed it, as evidenced by the image above which shows the number of observations to be 200,003.
I give you all a hearty virtual pat on the back. Thank you so much for your contribution which has built not only an impressive database but also a great online community.
The graph below shows the growth in number of observations over time. As you can see the project is going from strength to strength.
Keep up the great work team! :)
Posted on December 07, 2022 05:28 AM by markmcg markmcg | 4 comments | Leave a comment

November 28, 2022

Member profile - Jens Sommer-Knudsen

I was recently diving at a well-known Sydney dive spot, called Shiprock, on the Hacking River, south of Sydney. Shiprock is a unique marine environment, in a country full of unique marine environments. The reason for the dive was to take photos for another iNaturalist project, the Sydney Sea Slug Census November 2022. ( If you cannot find a sea slug at Shiprock, you’re not trying.
While drifting around, slightly shivering, I had two thoughts. Firstly, I was thinking about the attraction of citizen science and how important observations of life on the planet can be to promoting our understanding of the world. Diving in cold water, looking for tiny nudibranch can be uncomfortable work, but it was still personally rewarding. Secondly, I thought about how fortunate I was to be able to pursue such citizen science projects so close to Sydney. As I was born overseas, I could appreciate how fortunate we are to have intriguing locations, so close to a major city. This view is often expressed by AF members, especially those who originate from overseas, and who learned to dive in less diverse environments. An example is the subject of this Bio Blurb project member, Dr. Jens Sommer-Knudsen (view Jens' profile). Jens has 1,200 observations in Australasian Fishes, covering 535 species, however, for iNaturalist he has recorded 3,465 observations and assisted in 4,545 identifications.
As you might guess, Jens has always been interested in science, technology and the natural world, growing up in Denmark (and initially Germany) and obtaining a SCUBA license at age 16. He began diving in Denmark and Sweden, with a long break until he moved to Australia in 1992. The rest, as they say, is history.
Jens tells us, “Initially I was considering a career in marine science but enrolled in a degree in chemical engineering as back then job prospects were better in chemistry. However, I still gravitated towards biology and specialized in biochemistry and downstream processing, purifying proteins from biological materials. After graduation I started working in industry in a company producing agarose (a hydrogel used in life science research and biotechnology) from seaweed, but after a couple of years I returned to academia, first doing research on molecular plant pathology before getting a scholarship at The University of Melbourne and doing a PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry at the School of Botany. At university I joined the diving club and got involved in the committee and went diving on a regular basis; I even bought a Nikonos IV and took photos until it flooded (one day I might dig up my old photos and post them on iNat…). My career has since taken me back and forth between industry and universities and I now do research and consulting in the life sciences, especially pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, biomaterials and food. Recently I have also become involved in a company focusing on making products from cultured Australian seaweeds.”
Diving has become a passion for Jens, already diving in around 30 different countries and overseas territories. Like me, he has developed an appreciation for what Australia has to offer in diversity, telling us, “I have dived or snorkeled in all states and territories apart from Canberra; the biological diversity in this country is amazing and I don’t think there are any other countries where you can see so many different aquatic species. I am trying to dive as many places in Australia as possible and have so far done a lot on the eastern coastline down from Tasmania (including King Island and Flinders Island) up through Victoria, NSW (including Lord Howe Island), Queensland (e.g. Heron Island, Lady Musgrave and the Coral sea on a liveaboard), Norfolk Island, snorkeling in billabongs in the NT (very selectively…), diving on Ningaloo Reef, the Navy pier in Exmouth, Rottnest Island down further south and a bit of snorkeling in South Australia.”
What is equally as impressive about Jens is his dedication to citizen science. While I contribute photos as time allows, Jens has truly made citizen science an active part of his life. He joined the Underwater Research Group of NSW some years ago and tries to participate in as many citizen science projects as possible. He tells us, “I joined URG because of my interest in marine research as well as to learn more about marine biology. URG is one of the few dive clubs that “dive with a purpose”, which I find very appealing. I have recently been appointed the research officer and am now trying to expand our academic and industry contacts to develop, or be a part of, new research projects with high impact. URG NSW was founded in 1956 and the club has some valuable historical observations, including, for example, 12-hour surveys conducted at Shiprock all the way back in 1966 ( A number of members are certified for Reef Life Surveys (RLS) ( which is a quite challenging, but rewarding citizen science activity, generating data that gets included in scientific publications. Some very experienced URG members regularly train aspiring RLS divers to become proficient in conducting these surveys and participate in RLS surveys not only around Sydney but also places like Jervis Bay and Lord Howe Island. URG has a dive boat that can take up to 6 divers and a skipper, and it is used nearly every weekend (weather permitting) for various research projects as well as pleasure dives. In addition, the club and its members are involved in other projects such as Dragons of Sydney (Weedy Sea Dragons), Sea Slug census, Grey Nurse Projects and a number of our members also contribute to the Shiprock project, as well as clean-up dives. In the past we have been involved in Marine Debris surveys, Balmoral net marine growth monitoring, collecting cuttlefish eggs for university research projects, and more. For future projects we are, amongst other things, looking at getting involved in monitoring biodiversity at marinas, assisting research and surveys relating to seaweeds and potentially looking at some marine archaeology projects as well. Outside of URG I have participated in Citizen science projects in Victoria (e.g., invasive sea stars in Port Phillip Bay), recording marine biodiversity in East Timor (Timor Leste) and participating in coral reef restauration in Indonesia.”
Jens’s diving has been worked in with his professional schedule and other factors such as lockdowns. He tries to go diving at least a couple of times every month and takes one or two dive trips to other parts of NSW and Australia every year. Even when diving for fun, Jens says, “Whenever I find some interesting observations or good photos, I post them on iNat. I learned about iNat from other members of URG, and my first postings were from Shiprock. One of the aspects of participating in a citizen science project, such as Australasian Fishes, that I really like, is that one can contribute to expanding knowledge about distribution of marine species and help to document the effects of warming of the ocean. Many research projects have limited resources to do surveys, and this is definitely an area where citizen scientists can provide a very significant and important input – quite a few projects would not work without the commitment and effort of volunteer scientists! I have personally had the good luck to have some of my observations included in local field guides, and in some cases I have observed species that had not previously been seen in those locations and as such documented an extension of the known range. I think it is great that iNat encourages so many people and citizen scientists to become interested in, and document the natural world. While it can be a bit daunting to identify observations at first, one would be surprised how quickly one learns and sometimes it can become a bit of an obsession to be able to figure out what rare species one has found… I now have a significant library of books to help me identify the species I find, but even then, I occasionally manage to find species that are not described in the books – which is quite exciting… When this happens, there is very often an experienced iNaturalist contributor who can help identify these cryptic species. I’m still amazed by the extensive knowledge some of the members have and how willing they are to share their knowledge and time – it really feels like your part of a dedicated and friendly community!”
While I am grateful that Australian Fishes is a successful citizen science project and that it has attracted people like Jens to contribute to our growing database, learning about members such as Jens, is very inspirational. Such participants have seamlessly integrated citizen science into their own lives, finding the occasional synergy with their professional endeavours as well as their individual hobbies, interests and passions. There is no doubt that the efforts of individuals like Jens, and organizations like URG, along with other citizen research groups, will pay massive dividends as the databases grow and the periods of study and observations increase. Like Jens, I have heard from other project members who actively seek opportunities to expand their engagement in citizen science, finding both enjoyment and personal fulfillment from recording, in a meaningful way, the natural environment for current and future study. At Australasian Fishes, we hope to publicize more of such opportunities, where members can join other projects and contribute to science to the extent they desire. I’d write more, but I see a sea slug which needs to be recorded.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on November 28, 2022 12:39 AM by markmcg markmcg | 3 comments | Leave a comment

November 16, 2022

Monster Shrimpgoby - a new Australian record

On 29 October 2022 Alex Hoschke was diving under the Navy Pier at Exmouth, WA, when she observed a shrimpgoby she didn't recognize.
Alex stated, "I love stalking shrimpgobies and trying to get close enough to get a good photo, and although we know of at least five other species of shrimpgobies under the Navy Pier, this one looked different and was really shy. The first time I saw it I couldn't get anywhere near close enough, but I came back a bit later on during the dive and it eventually got used to me and I got a photo. I later struggled to identify the species from Australian records. I was pretty excited when Roberto Pillon (@rpillon) identified it on inat and it was a first record for Australia. Cool name too - although it wasn't very big!"
World goby expert Dr Doug Hoese was consulted to make doubly sure of the identification. He replied, "That is what everyone is calling oni from the tropical Pacific. It is a little different in coloration from Japanese material, although there is a lot of variation with size and substrate, so the Australian material may or may not be a different species, but for now calling it Tomiyamichthys oni seems to be the best call."
Thank you Alex for uploading your observation and for your ongoing support of the Australasian Fishes Project.
Now is probably a good time to let readers know that Alex is co-author of the Perth Coast and Rottnest Island Fish Books (buy them here). She is currently working with Dr Glen Whisson (@glen_whisson) on a Ningaloo Coast / Exmouth Gulf Fish ID book.
Posted on November 16, 2022 12:38 AM by markmcg markmcg | 3 comments | Leave a comment