Australasian fishes's Journal

May 23, 2024

Blackbarred Reefgoby - a new record for Australia

pnocturna
Kristin Anderson, @kjadiver, took this wonderful photograph of a Blackbarred Reefgoby, Priolepis nocturna, at a depth of about 12m near Exmouth, North West Cape, Western Australia. It's a new record for Australia!
Kristin stated, "I'd seen individuals of this species many times but usually they were very skittish, darting back out of sight immediately, or they were tucked in an awkward to photograph place, so I rarely spent much time trying to photograph them. It's one of my favourite sites, so I was confident I'd get the chance eventually! During this dive, finally, one was looking out from a better ledge and stayed long enough for a couple of snaps."
The identification of the fish was confirmed by Western Australian Museum Fish Curator Dr Glenn Moore, @gmoo, and goby expert Dr Helen Larson. Many thanks to you both.
The species has been recorded from localities throughout the Indo-Pacific. See the distribution map on the Fishbase website.
Prior to Kristen's discovery, 13 species of Priolepis were known From Australian waters (view the Australian Faunal Directory). Currently the Australasian Fishes Project has observations of only 4 of these.
It would be good to improve our coverage of the genus Priolepis. Please check your goby photographs from coastal waters of New South Wales and Lord Howe Island? You may uncover an image of a Blue-head Reefgoby, Priolepis cyanocephala. If you do, please upload it and let me know.
Thank you Kristin for uploading this important observation and for your ongoing support for the Australasian Fishes Project.
Posted on May 23, 2024 01:25 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2024

Western Crested Morwong in South Australia

Matt Tank, @mtank, photographed this Western Crested Morwong, Goniistius gibbosus, at Port Noarlunga Jetty, South Australia. He realized that the fish was well east of its official range, in fact the species hasn't been formally recognized from South Australia. The Australian Faunal Directory states that Goniistius gibbosus occurs in coastal Western Australian waters from Shark Bay (25°30'S) to the Recherche Archipelago (122°27'E).
Janine Baker, @marinejanine, stated that "Yes, WCM has made an out of range home here. Not sure how extensive the population is, since records are localised. Probable that more eastern and western (in this case) species will become resident as southern ocean conditions keep changing."
Matt stated, "You might have noticed that there's a number of observations of this species from the same location in the last two years or so (maybe even the same individual?). I had actually seen some of these a week or two before I recorded my own observation, so it wasn't entirely unexpected. I found it underneath the stairs at the end of the jetty, which is a little bit deeper than the sandy bottom just in front of the reef, about 7m in low tide. I'm not sure if you know of the area, but here's an image."
"Given the depth and me being on snorkel, I didn't get to spend a lot of time with it, but it seemed perfectly happy foraging around the bottom. It moved off when I got too close, but wasn't too concerned. I don't know what this species' behaviour is usually like around people, but to me it acted much like any other morwong I've seen - not too skittish but not overly curious."
Matt also stated, "I'm not sure if it's useful information, but this happend to be virtually the same location that a handful of out-of-range Scorpis lineolata observations were made too. I doubt they're related, but maybe worth mentioning."
Read more about Matt on his Australasian Fishes Project member profile.
Posted on May 20, 2024 02:17 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 24, 2024

300,000 observations!

Just in case you missed it, the Australasian Fishes Project recently passed another significant milestone. The project now contains over 300,000 observations.
The 300,000th observation was submitted by project stalwart Harry Rosenthal. It shows an Eastern Smooth Boxfish photographed in Port Hacking.
Congratulations Harry!
Posted on April 24, 2024 06:20 AM by markmcg markmcg | 1 comment | Leave a comment

April 08, 2024

Member profile - Meta4

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the sand, at a local beach, taking a break between dives where I was taking fish pictures for the project. Several of the nearby rockpool swimmers, also locals, recognised my gear and came over to say hello, and generally enquire about sharks.
This time, as one of the swimmers walked over, we both noticed a large sailboat leaving the river for the open ocean. My friend remarked that it was his dream to one day, buy a sailboat and travel around the world.” Looking at me, he must have picked up that I did not share his dream. “Yes,” I remarked, “I like 'the idea' of sailing the world, as a concept, it sounded quite pleasing.” I was probably not very convincing. I do, however, have what I believe to be, a typical realistic 'sailing off into the sunset' story. In my case two of my friends who met and dated for a while, decided sailing was their future. They both sold off all their worldly belongings, bought a sailboat, tried to learn how to sail, failed to learn the basics, had a falling out and eventually, went their separate ways, selling the boat. Perhaps that put me off the idea of cruising the world, without worries.
That said, there must be something magical as well as educational about traveling around on a private boat, exploring the remaining 70% of the earth’s surface. For someone interested in the natural environment, it must be a life-changing experience, bringing the naturalist into close contact with the environment.
An example of someone who actually sailed off into the sunset is this bio blurb’s subject, Owen. He is one of the leading fish identifiers in the project. Known to project participants as @meta4, he is ranked 7th on identifications list, contributing 15,621 identifications to Australasian Fishes. He has posted over 66,551 identifications across the iNaturalist. Personally, I am extremely grateful to Owen, especially with his identifications of marine tropical fish, of which he seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge.
Before his experience cruising, Owen grew up in Queensland. (He notes that for the last five years, he’s been 'exiled' to an inland town in Victoria.) Growing up, Owen was always interested in nature, but was obsessed with marine and freshwater life. He tells us that, “By age 9 or 10, I was making dip nets, exploring local creeks and keeping freshwater fish. I bought my first fish book (Jacaranda pocket guide to fishes of Australia by G.P. Whitley) and started learning Latin names.”
A couple of years later, Owen was snorkeling, observing and catching fish in the wild. He kept up with his aquarium hobby and by the time he was in high school, he spent afternoons and weekends working in one of the first aquarium shops in his area which featured marine fish.
This appears to be the real beginning of a career path to becoming a passionate naturalist. He tells us part of the job of working in the shop was, “Unpacking the new shipments to see which brightly coloured species had arrived. This was always exciting.”
Upon leaving school and getting a job, he suddenly had an income that went on scuba equipment and underwater cameras. Furthermore, he kept a saltwater aquarium and continued to find much pleasure in observing marine fish in their natural environment. As mentioned above, he lived aboard a yacht for four years and dove all along Queensland's east coast and spent a year in Papua New Guinea. As you might expect, the cruising experience made a big impression, as previously he had a career in big computers (when that was a thing), but after his time at sea, he found it difficult to settle down. Career changes followed.
He was next employed as a nature guide at Cape York and Qld National Parks for 20 years. Later he went to uni and got a science degree. With the degree he tells us, “I worked in environmental consulting as an ecologist and got to travel all over Queensland as well as large parts of the Northern Territory and NSW.”
Being a naturalist as both a profession and a hobby has remained with Owen. He tells me that he spends some time on iNat most days. “I started because I had an interest in the orchids of Victoria and wanted to learn what's here and where they are. I also did it to stay in touch with the plants and animals I was familiar with from back in Queensland and learn more about the flora and fauna of where I'm living now. Fish were always my first love and I usually start with fish on iNat, before moving on to see what orchids and general flora and fauna are showing up.”
He finds that iNaturalist is an exceptional educational tool, expanding his understanding of the natural world, even in places he has never visited. He tells us, “I haven't dived in southern Australia and before I found iNat, I mostly knew the temperate fish fauna from books. But iNat has been a great way to increase my knowledge of that area. I have a lot of fish ids on iNat, but they only account for about a quarter of my total. Biogeography has always fascinated me and I've always been interested in what occurs where, what doesn't and why. iNat gives a great overall view of the ranges for a wide spectrum of species. iNat is also good for finding others with interests that overlap and exchanging information. I've made some good friends through iNat and had some memorable field trips with them.”
With his vast professional experience with nature and the iNaturalist software, I asked Owen to give us some words of advice for our newer project and iNat participants. He suggests, “iNat isn't just for posting your observations, it's a great information source. You can use it to find out what occurs where you are or anywhere you are interested in and see photos that show the variation within a species, much better than books can.”
For those posting observations, Owen suggests, “When you are uploading to iNat, the better your photos, the easier it is for someone to id. The subject should be in focus and where possible, prominent in the image. It helps if the image shows the features that help to id the species and distinguish it from similar species. If you don't know which features will help to id something, the better the photo or photos, the better your chances of getting an id.”
Using trees as an example, Owen tells us, “Eucalypts are a good example for this. To identify most eucalypt trees, a botanist needs to see details of the bark, the leaves, the buds and gumnuts as well as the tree shape. Often, I can come close to an id for a eucalypt tree from just the bark or a general photo, but can't tell which of three very similar species without seeing the buds or gumnuts. It's frustrating to see so many eucalypt uploads that just have one photo and are probably never going to be identified.”
It’s remarkable to think that the dream of cruising the seven seas can either set you on a fulfilling, lifelong path of loving and learning about the natural environment or result in a messy divorce and a cheap sailboat for sale. Take your pick. Personally, I am very grateful to Owen, who has contributed so much to the Australasian Fishes project and fish identification, and I am slightly grateful to my divorced friends who, not only provided me with a good apocryphal story, but may have prevented me from having to quickly sell a large boat after a falling out. The dream of cruising is still intact.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on April 08, 2024 11:01 PM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 04, 2024

Member profile - Craig Lewis

The project is fortunate to have people who live in extremely “fish rich” environments. For example, the waters and islands around Coffs Harbour, NSW are home to many diverse tropical as well as temperate fishes. Many of these fortunate project participants have turned their attention to investigating the diverse marine life at their door for iNaturalist, developing skills in both photography and fish identification to extend their contributions to citizen science.
In this Bio Blurb, we ask a series of questions to one such project contributor, Craig Lewis, who is in position 14 on the project Observations Leader Board. He’s known in the project as @divercraig. Craig has been with the project since 2019 and has contributed 4,667 observations to iNaturalist. Of those 3,124 have been for Australasian Fishes. His observations cover 426 different fish species, clear evidence he lives in a fish rich area.
One of the great strengths of Australasian Fishes is the willingness and ability of the more experienced members to pass along tips and advice to the less experienced members. This is often mentioned in the project’s Bio Blurbs. In this edition, Craig is willing to offer his advice and experience in the pursuit of citizen science and underwater fish photography.
1. What were the origins of your interest in nature and fish?
I have been interested in nature and wildlife since I was very young, probably influenced by my parents who had an interest in wildlife. For a while I toyed with the idea of a career in marine biology, but it did not eventuate. Once I met my better half in Sydney in the 1980’s we were busy with raising our two sons and careers in inland parts of New South Wales. It wasn’t until we moved to the coast that I became interested in diving. Someone lent me some dive gear which I tried in Coffs Harbour Marina, and I was hooked. Years later, I am more passionate about diving and conservation in the oceans than when I started, and I now enjoy self-reliant diving, as well as diving with my regular dive buddy who also is an underwater photographer.
2. How often do you go diving? Is it all SCUBA?
I like to get out diving off the coast of Coffs Harbour every couple of weeks. We are spoilt for diving off Coffs Harbour as the Solitary Islands Marine Park extends along this part of the coast, with the majority of our diving occurring at offshore islands in the park. Coffs Harbour is not a shore dive location, and most diving is done around the islands or bommies out to sea. I also regularly dive Nelson Bay and Southwest Rocks and have been fortunate enough to also go overseas for numerous dive trips.
When diving I am always on SCUBA and never dive without my camera. Some time ago I became involved with two underwater research groups which made me more interested in underwater photography. The two groups I am involved with are Reef Life Survey (RLS) and the Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group (SURG). Through my work with these groups, I have been fortunate enough to meet some talented and learned experts in marine fields, as the National Marine Science Centre is also based in Coffs Harbour. It has been a real pleasure, and a learning experience, being able to talk to marine experts in fish, molluscs and invertebrates.
3. Could you tell us a little about your camera gear, what are you using now?
My current underwater camera is an Olympus OM1. I use an AOI housing and ports. Lighting is via two SUPE D-Pro strobes. I also have a Go-Pro mounted on my housing. I regularly use four lenses depending on the subjects we want to photograph; an Olympus 7-14mm Zuiko Pro, Olympus 12-40mm Zuiko Pro, Olympus 60mm macro and have recently bought an Olympus 90mm macro lens.
My Olympus camera uses a cropped sensor, so it is advantageous with reach and the size of subjects in frame but said to be limited with dynamic range. Compared to other camera systems, I believe the colour coming out of Olympus cameras is superior. Another advantage of the Olympus gear is that the OM1 body is smaller than some full-frame camera bodies, and the lenses are considerably smaller and lighter. This is a benefit when travelling with underwater camera gear overseas, and also when diving, as I can get into tighter areas that larger camera systems cannot. My camera rig is lighter than some full-frame set-ups which is also beneficial when diving as it requires less effort to dive with, which can help air consumption underwater.
For editing my photos, I use Adobe Lightroom and Topaz Denoise, but try to minimise editing through better practices when taking photos. Initially I had no experience with this software but have found it to be a rewarding experience, although it does take some time to develop a workflow you are happy with.
When considering underwater photography, I would recommend divers start with a basic set-up at first and then progress to more serious set-ups once you learn the basics and if you aren’t put off. A good place to start is second-hand set-ups and if diving, you will generally need some form of lighting. This could be a strong torch but will usually involve having one or two strobes.
Like diving itself, diving with a camera is not for everybody, and to some extent requires different diving methods in that you normally aren’t content with just cruising around watching the underwater life go by. As a photographer you want to be able to capture the beauty you see, and sometimes may spend most of the dive trying to photograph a particular subject and are more focused on a particular dive plan. To be able to develop your photography takes patience, good buoyancy skills and some failures. Underwater camera set-ups can be bulky underwater, are not cheap and can be rendered useless if you have a major flooding event.
4. Could you talk a little about why you were attracted to iNat?
Initially I was introduced to iNat by our local fish expert; Ian Shaw, @ralfmagee, in our discussions about uncommon fish species. I have a natural curiosity about wildlife, a desire to learn and to be able to identify flora and fauna, so iNat is ideal for that, especially when you’re unsure of something. I joined the site and from there became part of the Australasian Fishes Project. I believe this Project is a valuable tool for data collection, which can ultimately be used to protect our marine life and ecosystems.
I generally upload images to iNat every few weeks. I am a photographer who will take plenty of images in the field, which is easy to do with today’s digital cameras. I enjoy taking photos, but I also enjoy the processing, uploading and identification of subjects through iNat. I really enjoy having my observations verified by the peer review process.
The Australasian Fishes Project is a great learning instrument for users, but it is also a valuable resource for citizen science. It has taught me to be more observant and that I can have an impact through my participation.
5. What advice would you give them, or words of encouragement would you offer our less experienced project participants?
The great thing about citizen science is its potential through the sheer number of participants to be able to record data and contribute to a greater understanding of our environment. This will ultimately allow it to be better sustainably managed. It’s amazing that something as simple as a photo can change our way of thinking for a particular species in that it may not have been recorded in that area before or it might be a new species, or it might show particular behaviour not seen previously.
Apart from assisting data collection and observations, citizen science also benefits the people taking part. You become more aware of species and learn a great deal about your subjects. You also have the chance to find something really unusual, which can be verified on iNat.
You can’t adequately protect something without knowledge of it, and unfortunately there are not enough scientists as there are citizens willing to assist.
_____________________________________________________________________
The project extends its thanks to Craig, not only for his numerous observations, but also for his willingness to share his insight and passion for marine fish with the Australasian Fishes community.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on April 04, 2024 01:01 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 23, 2024

Male Leafy Seadragon with parasite gives birth

Jens Sommer-Knudsen, @jenssommer01, took this wonderful photo in January 2024.
Janine Baker, @marinejanine, manages the Dragon Search South Australia project. She stated, "This is such a special photo, because it shows a newly hatched baby seadragon, on top of the algae-covered egg cups. Very rare to see a hatchling captured in the same image as the father."
The adult seadragon was named 'Xiaolong' by diver Kerry Neil. Xiaolong means 'Little Dragon'. In her own words Kerry is a "passionate marine scientist working within industry to ensure sustainable development of coastal infrastructure."
Jens provided us with the following information. "A dive buddy from URG NSW and I had travelled to South Australia with the main aim of seeing and photographing Leafy Seadragons. Peter Corrigan from Sea Dragon Dive Lodge was kind enough to take us for a dive at Rapid Bay Jetty to help us find some; the photo in question is of a leafy that he showed us just next to the old jetty. We saw a number of leafies during the dive as well as more on a subsequent dive. We observed Xiaolong towards the end of the dive and while the egg mass is obvious, I must admit that I didn't notice the babies and the parasitic isopod (See another journal post about parasitic isopods) until I looked closer at the photos after the dive."
Thank you Jens for uploading this terrific observation.
P.S. For all you movie trivia buffs, American martial artist and actor Bruce Lee's Chinese name was 李小龍 (Li Xiaolong).
Posted on March 23, 2024 07:34 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 13, 2024

Member profile - Susan Prior

It is usual with these Bio Blurbs to highlight a project participant who has contributed significantly to the project. This Bio Blurb, featuring Susan Prior, @susanprior, who is listed at No 18 on the project Observer Leader Board with 2,356 observations is certain one such participant. She’s a strong supporter of iNaturalist with 3,643 observations recorded.
Some Bio Blurbs also feature Australian locations, where project participants would find the natural environment both interesting and unusual, often full of exotic marine life. This Bio Blurb is one of those as well, as Susan lives at a place most dream about visiting, Norfolk Island. A place rich in both environmental and historical contexts.
Finally, Susan is a skilled, professional writer, so there is very little I could add to her Bio Blurb, as it is a rich and rewarding write-up of her interest in nature and her love for the island. The following are her own words.
“If I was to give you a quick list of what I am, this would be it: a science communicator, an interpretation researcher, content developer, writer, editor, project manager, community engagement practitioner, publisher, storyteller, and environmental and coral reef advocate. And I am about to embark on a PhD, studying Norfolk Island’s marine environment. I am also a mum to two adopted daughters, a grandma to one grandson and a granddaughter who is due very soon.
I was born in the UK, and emigrated to Australia with my then husband 40 years ago, in 1984. I’ve loved being in the water since I was a child, so it was natural for me to take up the opportunity to go scuba diving and ocean swimming in Australia. We moved as a family to Norfolk Island in the late 1990s, for a period of almost five years. I then returned to the island to live permanently in 2018.
In the 90s, I’d squeeze my daily swims around part-time work and being a mum. I’d swim out to the reef, often with a small child – or two – hanging onto my back so they could peer into the depths and see the amazing wonders there as well. I recall pointing out moray eels, cheeky smoky pullers and colourful wrasse.
Fast forward twenty years, I returned as an empty nester with more time. Working as a freelancer gave me the flexibility to resume my swims but when I got in the water, I was immediately struck by the changes I thought I was seeing – less fish, both in variety and numbers, and diseased and algae-covered corals. I didn’t return to diving, though. On Norfolk, we are lucky enough to be able to access the reef by wading in off the beach. All my photos have been taken while snorkeling, which I normally try and time to around low tide. As I only use a small camera and no additional lighting or other equipment, low tide conditions mean I can get closer to the subject and stay still enough to get a reasonable shot.
I had no evidence to support my hunch that the reef was struggling and when I searched for resources about Norfolk Island’s reef, I could find very little. Norfolk Island was almost like a research frontier – yet to be really discovered. I decided I had to do something. In January 2020, I drew a line in the sand and began taking photographs. But the trouble was, I didn’t have a clue what I was photographing. I had zero knowledge, none whatsoever, of fish or corals. Heck, I even confused a flowerpot coral with an anemone! I would Google, for example, ‘black and white fish, horizontal stripes, yellow tail fin’ and then trawl through the photos until I found something that looked vaguely similar. That led to me discovering iNaturalist and it grew from there.
Norfolk Island’s reef has long been overlooked, overshadowed by the stunning beauty and intriguing history of the island above water. Yet, Norfolk Island’s lagoons are unique and I wanted to raise awareness of them. Not only does the island feature one of the most southerly coral reefs in the world, but it is uniquely surrounded by an Australian Marine Park up to the high tide mark, while directly abutting the World Heritage Australian Convict Property of Kingston. This is relevant in that this history has contributed to many of the detrimental changes we see on the reef today.
As many freelancers will relate, I was booked for a six-week job that never eventuated, so with my growing catalogue of images, I decided to use the time to build a website and blog. It’s by no means perfect, but it is a start. On there, and with the iNaturalist window always open to help me ID species, I catalogued every kind of fish – as well as corals, anemones, nudibranchs, turtles and much more – that I’d seen in the last four years while doing my ‘lap’ swimming. This website is updated regularly as I get better images of different species or write another blog post.
In summer 2020, as I was just getting going recording the reef, Norfolk Island experienced a severe drought. It broke with devastating consequences for our marine environment. Since then, I’ve used the website and my Norfolk ISLAND TIME social media pages to raise awareness and to pressure (nicely) the various levels of government to help us tackle our water quality issues. In those four years, there have been some small improvements to the catchment, research undertaken and reports tendered, but there is still much to do if we are to fix the problem properly and build a resilient reef – resilient enough to withstand the other impacts that are coming at it, such as climate change. Time is marching on, and I fear we will lose the reef as we know and experience it today before we achieve any serious improvements to the island’s wastewater management.
In this journey, iNaturalist and Australian Fishes have proved to be an amazing resource, but I think the thing that has struck me the most throughout this whole, very steep, learning curve, is the enthusiasm and helpfulness of other fish and coral enthusiasts, both amateur and academic. So many people have kindly helped to correct my aberrant IDs and offered advice and supportive comments. Even better, I can’t quite describe the thrill of being the first person to identify a species in an area. I think I am up to eleven now. Silly, I know. Childish, possibly. But it’s a great buzz.
As a citizen scientist, I have more than 100,000 images of Norfolk Island’s reef and its inhabitants: four years of information, observations and evidence. I keep everything, and I also keep different versions of the best photos. This means I have the right file size and type ready to go for any particular platform, be it my website, the book I am writing, iNaturalist.org records, Facebook or anything else I need. And keeping everything (and filing them in a logical way) means I can go back and compare images of the same coral bommie, for example, taken in 2020 to ones taken in 2024. I believe this resource is and will continue to be invaluable in helping to protect Norfolk Island’s reef. It is my advocacy tool. We may forget, but photographs don’t.
I have to thank Malcolm Francis, @malcolm_francis, who is based in New Zealand and who maintains a comprehensive fish species database for Norfolk Island, the Kermadecs and Lord Howe. He has been a wealth of wisdom and information. I’d also like thank and acknowledge two other very significant people on this journey: coral researchers Associate Professor Tracy Ainsworth and Associate Professor Bill Leggat. It is because of them that I have now, at 64-years-old, decided to embark on a PhD to try and fill in some of those research gaps”
I certainly want to pay Susan a visit and buy her a coffee, on the island of course. For those interested in learning more about her work or the unique natural environment found on Norfolk Island, I encourage you to examine her website, blog and Facebook page.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on March 13, 2024 05:51 AM by markmcg markmcg | 7 comments | Leave a comment

March 06, 2024

The Australasian Fishes project has a new look

You may have noticed that the Australasian Fishes project looks different.
We've converted from a traditional project to a collection project. Why did we do this? The primary reason is that we were going backwards. At the time of conversion, we had a stockpile of over 11,000 suitable observations that needed to be added manually. Despite having a team of people adding observations, the situation was unmanageable.
Now when you add your observation, it is automatically uploaded to the Australasian Fishes project, assuming it passes the project rules.
So what does this mean to you? The project still has the same functionality but when you upload your new observations you don't need to choose to add them to the project. They will go in automatically.
We're going through a testing phase at the moment. Please let me know if you have any problems.
Thank you to Scott Loarie, @loarie, for his help making this change happen.
Posted on March 06, 2024 10:29 AM by markmcg markmcg | 3 comments | Leave a comment

February 28, 2024

Barred Knifejaw - a new species record for Australia

This Barred Knifejaw, Oplegnathus fasciatus, is a new record for Australia. It was speared by Angus McCook in June 2023 off Tea Gardens, New South Wales.
Thank you Vin Rushworth for uploading the observation.
Prior to this observation only one species of Oplegnathus was known from Australia -Oplegnathus woodwardi.
Luckily for us, Angus' fish is an adult male that has the distinctive black colouration around the mouth and eye typical of the Barred Knifejaw. The species also has more vertical bars than O. woodwardi, a high soft dorsal fin, and dusky coloured pectoral, pelvic and caudal fins.
Interestingly the species has also been recorded as an introduction to New Zealand. It also occurs in Japan, Korea, Taiwan. Hawaii and the Mediterranean Sea, where it has been introduced.
Angus stated, "I was competing in the Australian pacific coast championships. I had just lost a large yellowtail kingfish and decided to scrounge for some smaller species in Esmeralda Cove on Broughton Island. While scoping around a large boulder edge where I had previously found a variety of species, I approached a school of Black Drummer swimming out in the open. As I got closer, I noticed one fish looked different to the rest, later realizing what it was as my father couldn't stop raving about this same fish from a previous dive in the same spot just a few months prior. Once I approached the school, the Knifejaw became very skittish, swimming erratically, separating itself from the school. I slowly followed along the surface until it eventually sought refuge in a cave. I patiently hid out of sight on the other side of the cave and waited for the fish to emerge. After spearing the fish, at the competition weigh-in I found out how unknown this fish was and the likelihood of it being an Australian record. It makes me very proud to be a part of history."
References:
  • Nakabo, T. 2002. Fishes of Japan: with pictorial keys to the species. Tokai University Press. Pp 2428.
  • Roberts, C., Stewart, A.L. and C.D. Struthers. 2015. The Fishes of New Zealand. Te Papa Press. Pp 1748.
Posted on February 28, 2024 04:12 AM by markmcg markmcg | 5 comments | Leave a comment

February 22, 2024

Holy Cow! Harry's book has been published.

As most project Journal readers know, I have been writing bio-blurbs of project participants for some time. To date we have featured almost 50 project participants over the years and will continue to do so. The Journal has also highlighted significant project discoveries, observation statistics, important project information and updates.
My New Year’s resolution for 2023 was to write a self-published book on the background of the Australasian Fishes Project and citizen science. I was successful in meeting my goal, by publishing on Amazon, Holy Cow! I am a Citizen Scientist. It is 197 pages of often humorous information about today’s Golden Age of Scientific Discovery, the role of citizen science in professional science and features bio blurbs of many familiar Australasian Fishes project members and contributors. Of course, there’s a bit of personal information about me, and the road I travelled to reach citizen science, with plenty of wrong turns, detours and flat tyres.
For any participants interested in how the project was envisioned and originally organised by Mark McGrouther and friends, this book will provide valuable insight into the early days of Australasian Fishes and its growth over time. The book contains numerous examples of information about development and achievements of Australasian Fishes to date and some possible directions I hope the project may take in the future.
Finally, the book provides insight and tips for those wanting to start up their own citizen science project, from lessons learned from watching Australasian Fishes grow and mature over time. It is a significant project we can all be extremely proud to help to support, and which I am proud to highlight in this book. In some ways, it is the story of all of us in the project. It has also served as the background to presentations I have made at local Sydney dive clubs, and I would be happy to present to any groups interested.
The book is available in paperback and Kindle versions and can be found at Holy Cow! I am a Citizen Scientist.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on February 22, 2024 03:02 AM by markmcg markmcg | 2 comments | Leave a comment