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


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