Australasian Fishes's Journal

Journal archives for October 2017

October 07, 2017

Eschmeyer's Scorpionfish at the Solitaries

This amazingly camouflaged fish was photographed by Ian Shaw at a depth of about 12m, at North West Solitary Island, northern New South Wales.
Ian, along with the rest us needed help identifying the fish so we turned to scorpionfish expert, Dr Hiroyuki Motomura who works at the Kagoshima University Museum. Hiro stated, "About 48 scale rows in the longitudinal series, 17 pectoral-fin rays, and shape of the head and snout found in the photographed fish and its locality indicate that it is Scorpaenopsis eschmeyeri. The observation is a new southerly record for the species."
Ian's observation extends the known distribution of the species south by more than 300km from Moreton Bay, Queensland. In Australia, Eschmeyer's Scorpionfish occurs in tropical waters from far northern Queensland down to North West Solitary Island (Ian's new observation).
It is a coral reef-dwelling species that lives at depths from 0-60m.
Posted on October 07, 2017 12:27 PM by markmcg markmcg | 1 comment | Leave a comment

October 11, 2017

Member profile - Richard Ling

Few members of the Australasian Fishes project would trace their naturalist origins to a television show they saw at age seven, but for Richard Ling, this was the catalyst which motivated his love of nature and placed him in the top spot on the Australasian Fishes project observations leader-board.
A quick look at Richard’s impressive output shows he has, to date, contributed 2,829 observations of 745 different species to iNaturalist and 1,702 of those observations are of Australasian Fishes.
Richard recalls watching David Attenborough's ground-breaking 1970s TV series "Life on Earth" when he was only seven. The program was everyone’s a first look at the type of high definition nature videos and photography to which we are accustomed today, but to a seven year old boy, in rural Australia, it started a chain of events which has greatly benefited our citizen science project. He recalls that the show’s segments of life on the African plains were his favourite but Africa seemed a million miles away from his home and big game safaris were not possible in Australia. His second favourite segments on the show were the underwater scenes, and with the ocean far more accessible, it has now become part of his passion as an underwater naturalist.
Richard starting diving in 1998, discovering that the waters off the coast were exotic and have become the “Serengeti on his doorstep”. Like the plains of Africa, Australian coastal waters offer a range of both large and small creatures, the delicate and the deadly. Like Africa, he could easily witness creatures in the same life and death struggle which is still documented by David Attenborough.
Richard’s search for wildlife adventure has taken him up and and down much of the eastern coast of Australia, and his rich diversity of photographic subjects illustrates that he has a keen eye and substantial patience. He is a trusted recorder of the rich diversity of sea life which surrounds him on every dive. While many of us keep close to our own marine patches, Richard’s observations record a passion for travel, especially along the entire coast of New South Wales where he seems to have explored and faithfully recorded many areas of fish concentrations.
Members are encouraged to examine Richard's 93 pages of Observations in the project, as they form an extensive guide to the location and identification of many fish species found on the east coast, from the southern border of New South Wales to the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef.
His photography has become his dive log book, where he has recorded all that he sees in his underwater safaris, creatures large and small, invertebrate, hard-boned and with skeletons of cartilage, however, the breadth of his work shows a familiarisation with his subjects and their environment. This only comes from hours of patient observation, a keen eye and a desire to stalk the game of his adopted environment. He would be the person to ask for diving tips and the best fish hot-spots on the eastern seaboard.
To photograph such a wide diversity of marine life requires a knowledge of cameras which only comes from practice and experimentation. He bought an early IXUS digital camera and underwater housing in 2004, which was primitive by today’s standard, but immediately hooked him on underwater camera safaris. It led to the purchase of numerous marine field guides and a desire to put a name to every fish he saw. Since that time Richard has owned several camera and housings, and lives by what he calls Rule #1: “Never take any camera underwater you can’t afford to destroy”. He has assembled a collection of flooded cameras, and has settled on working with Cannon cameras (favoring the G series, he is now using a G15) as they come at reasonable price, and have affordable housings. For lighting he uses Ikelite AF-35 strobes which he describes as “horribly temperamental but I've become fairly adept at fixing them when they break or flood”. Words to live by if you happen to be good at soldering.
While his list may seems vast there are other members of the project barking at Richard’s heels, all working to build up the Australasian Fishes database to increase knowledge and understanding of our waters.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on October 11, 2017 04:13 AM by markmcg markmcg | 6 comments | Leave a comment

October 17, 2017

New blog post about Australasian Fishes

Hi all. I thought you might like to know that a blog post about Australasian Fishes has been added to the Australian Museum website. A number of you get a mention. Keep up the great work. :)
Posted on October 17, 2017 05:41 AM by markmcg markmcg | 3 comments | Leave a comment

October 20, 2017

Have we got a Deal(fish) for you!

It's not every day you see one of these beauties. PT Hirschfield is one lucky diver!
Our New Zealand colleagues call this fish a Peregrin Dealfish. Why am I telling you this? Because the species isn't 'formally' recorded from Australian waters and as such has not been assigned a standard name.
The species, whose scientific name is Trachipterus trachypterus, has a widespread distribution occurring as far away as the Mediterranean Sea.
Apparently there have been a number of ocurrences in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Check out the terrific video of this fish.
According to Roberts and co-authors, "Juveniles are commonly beach-cast, especially in the Cook Strait region, during spring". So sadly, this fish may end up on a beach in Port Phillip Bay. Keep your eyes peeled!
Thank you to everyone involved.
Roberts, C.D., Stewart, A.L. & C.D. Struthers, 2016. The Fishes of New Zealand, Te Papa Press, Wellington, 2008 pp. ISBN: 978-0-9941041-6-8.
Posted on October 20, 2017 05:12 AM by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 26, 2017

What's a big fish like you doing in a place like this?

Sascha Schulz was cooling off during lunchtime on a hot day when he spotted a large fish in the still pool below Tallowa Dam. The fish was a Murray Cod, Maccullochella peelii, a species not previously recorded from the Shoalhaven River. In his own words Sascha "nearly swallowed my snorkel" when he saw the fish underwater. Fortunately, he managed to take a photo despite the poor visibility.
The following day Sascha's team of contractors were running the fishlift and were surprised to find the 85 cm long fish in the fishlift hopper. The fish was released alive.
The Murray Cod is an endemic freshwater species that occurs throughout the Murray-Darling River system. View more information. It has also been released into a number of New South Wales water-bodies including Cataract Dam, a Sydney water supply reservoir.
How did a Murray Cod end up at Tallowa Dam on the Shoalhaven River? NSW Fisheries have not released this species, but advised that "any future captures be euthanised to prevent a population establishing."
  1. Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & M. Allen. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 394.
  2. McDowall, R.M. 1996. Freshwater Fishes of South-Eastern Australia. Reed Books. Pp. 247.
Posted on October 26, 2017 05:05 AM by markmcg markmcg | 5 comments | Leave a comment