Journal archives for November 2017

November 07, 2017

Congratulations Fish Fans!

Australasian Fishes has been online for just over one year. Since the first image was added in October 2016, more than 600 iNaturalist members have added over 17,600 observations of 1650 species.
Below is a small taste of what you have achieved.
We've received some wonderful feedback; here are two examples.
  • Thank you very much for starting 'Australasian Fishes'. Personally it's been a real buzz. Getting to interact with people who know lots about what I see & photograph here in Port Phillip Bay and pass on your knowledge to me, then I pass it onto my family & friends who I share your great website with. I also get great value out of all the posts about everything that's going on around Australia. Every day I look forward to what I can learn from you all. Keep it going. - Ken_flan
  • I work in the ichthyology section at the Australian Museum. One of the things I work on is the Australian Faunal Directory (AFD) which details taxonomic and distributional information for every species of fish recorded in Australia and its territories. Having photos accompanied by the fish community IDs is a very useful tool for my work, so thanks in advance for all your great pictures. :) - mattl
Thank you so much everyone! Give yourselves a huge pat on the back. You have all done remarkably well, and have made Australasian Fishes a great success. Here's looking at a great second year with many more discoveries. :)
Cheers,
Mark (markmcg)
Posted on November 07, 2017 03:38 by markmcg markmcg | 10 comments | Leave a comment

November 21, 2017

Member profile - Ian Shaw

Participants in the Australasian Fishes project might wonder how long it takes to create a large portfolio of underwater photos and once started, how to keep the images organised as to be useful to the research community in the future. To achieve this is a special skill and members will note that several participants in the project have each contributed over a thousand images, which we suspect is only a small percentage of the images they have captured over the years.
A prolific contributor to the project is Ian Shaw, aka ralfmagee. Ian is our current leader in number of different species captured for the project, recording 755 different species. This diversity comes out of his impressive contribution of 1,697 observations submitted to date. This is in addition to his 259 fish identifications. When examined together, it is an impressively large body of work, which has contributed substantial volume and momentum to the project over our first year. The Australian Museum and all our partner institutions are extremely grateful.
Examining such a portfolio, one would imagine, Ian has been in the marine environment for a long time. This is true, as he began serious scuba diving shortly after moving to Coffs Harbour, NSW, becoming certified in 1986. In those early years, he blended his newly found love of diving with his interest in photography, by purchasing his first (of several) Nikonos 5 cameras. Armed with a fresh PADI certification and an iconic underwater camera, he added the keen interest of a passionate, enthusiastic amateur who sought to take his underwater experiences to new levels.
Like several other members of the project, Ian made a priority of exploring and better understanding the marine world in his own backyard, the Solitary Islands of NSW. Looking at his images of this remarkable fish “hot spot” it is easy to see that Ian often felt the need to stay close to home, as the local waters provide such diversity of rich marine life, which he has dutifully photographed and widely shared. Not satisfied with only the world of sport diving, Ian worked to transform himself from a casual hobbyist to a classic citizen scientist, making a serious impact on our knowledge of the seas. Shortly following his certification, Ian joined a group of likeminded individuals who’d established the Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group (SURG). We invite you to examine their website, which outlines the varied activities of this volunteer organisation which range from constructing and maintaining underwater trails to the scientific tracking of coral bleaching events. A quick glance at the website will show it is a group of underwater naturalists, photographers and divers who work for the benefit and ongoing management of the Solitary Islands Marine Park. SURG has created numerous resources for those interested in the region’s underwater environment, including booklets and CD of the rich marine life. Of course, Ian is curator of the collection of species, which has greatly assisted Australasian Fishes.
Ian’s marine science interests have not been limited to the Coffs area, although the majority of his diving is still done in his “backyard”. His interest in the ocean creatures has propelled him to membership on the Advisory Committee of Reef Life Survey, an organisation dedicated to charting the changes in today’s oceans. He recently spoke to groups about his Reef Life Survey project which took him from Thursday Island to Darwin, a project only for the hardiest and dedicated, but important in charting the changes in the marine environment. His work with Reef Life Survey also allowed him to co-author a book titled, A Field Guide to the Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia.
Ian has contributed photos to numerous organisations with an interest in underwater photography in addition to the Australian Museum website, where his images are prominently displayed. He has submitted data and images to the Atlas of Living Australia, RLS, Fishes of Australia, as well as supplying images for various scientific and educational publications. He reports that while there is very little money in contributing his imagery, his bookshelf has benefited with copies of the publications he receives in return for the photos. We too are grateful for his generosity and dedication to documenting the ocean, and its inhabitants.
From his extensive engagement in the marine research community, it is clear Ian’s extremely serious about the organising and storage of his underwater photographs. He uses Adobe’s Lightroom as a tool to sort and organise his images, which, thanks to digital technology, grows exponentially. How does he administer this avalanche of images? His rule is to try to name each digital image as soon as possible, after putting them in to his Lightroom catalogue. His naming procedure includes the subject’s common or scientific name, where taken, the date and his initials. A typical example of one image’s title would be: Platax teira Split Solitary Is 171209 IVS. While it is a bit of work in the beginning, from then on, the image is searchable and its details are quickly known. He points out that Lightroom also permits tagging with key words, such as Family and common name, giving him a method of locating the images he wants, long after they have been put in storage. Good advice!
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on November 21, 2017 02:56 by markmcg markmcg | 8 comments | Leave a comment

November 30, 2017

Member profile - Erik Schlögl

Perhaps like many participants in the Australasian Fishes Project, Erik Schlögl found early inspiration through television. Today he is Professor and Director of the Quantitative Finance Research Centre at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia and when not busy working on problems in the world of quantitative finance, he is an avid photographer. Erik's passion is underwater photography, but is also a keen photographer of the natural world in general, with a bit of travel photography thrown in.
As a child, he was great fan of the documentaries of Jacques Cousteau and the voyages of the Calypso. These programs, which ran from the 1960s to the 1980s introduced millions to the reality of the “Silent World” and even as a young boy of 7 to 8, the images became part of Erik’s childhood experience and were carried over to adult memories, as he admired and remained enthralled by the underwater images he saw so many years ago.
In 1994, Erik had one of those Eureka moments, when he suddenly realised, the adventures of Jacques Cousteau were not solely a manifestation of television, but were “actually things he could do”. With this insight he organised his next holiday, from his native Germany to the Maldives, where he took both open-water and advanced diving courses. Total immersion! Erik was quickly able to incorporate his passion for creating quality nature images with his new underwater skills and he recalls taking his first underwater camera, a Nikonos V, on his final training check out dive. Since then, he rarely enters the water without a camera.
A quick examination of his observations reveals how much the project has benefited from Erik's underwater photography. At the time of writing this journal entry, he had provided 1,426 fish observations. In his catalogue, one sees not only the wide variety of species he has captured (a total of 575), but also that many of the images are superb.
Visitors to the Australian Museum website would be familiar with his work, and his photographs have been published in numerous books, magazines and newspapers, including Australian Geographic. The highest accolade he's received so far was a "Highly Commended" in the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife category of the Natural History Museum/BBC Wildlife Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition 2002.
Erik goes diving (using either open-circuit SCUBA or a Poseidon Se7en rebreather) as often as he can and almost always with a camera. He is an expert at squeezing as much bottom time out of a tank of air as possible, with his personal best exceeding two hours. He says that such time spent underwater is required for fish photography, when it is best to move slowly, keep your eyes open, and always be ready to shoot - it's much more likely that a fish will swim in front of your lens than it is to get a good photo trying to chase down a fish under water.
Erik confesses that carrying a camera underwater changes the fundamental nature of diving. He suggests that divers would expect to see at least 20 different species of fishes and marine life per dive in Sydney waters and he greatly enjoys searching for numbers 21, or 22, 23 ,etc, which would be unique to the dive. For his underwater photography, Erik uses a Nikon D300 SLR in a Seacam housing, with two strobes. The 60mm Micro Nikkor lens works particularly well for most fish photography, though for bigger fishes the 16-35mm wide angle zoom lens is more suitable. For recording observations of fishes for the Australasian Fishes project, much less expensive systems than this will also do the job - the system described here is aimed at people looking for that magazine-quality shot.
Professor Schlögl strongly believes the greatest benefit he receives from the project is the immediate access to top marine taxonomy experts, who, shortly after his posts, will identify the fish for him, comment about its range and point out anything unusual about his finds. He greatly values this ability to quickly access such a wide range of supportive experts. It has motivated him to continue to record new species to expand his nature portfolio. His current plan is to use his rebreather to gain access to greater depths and a greater diversity of fish.
An encouraging aspect of speaking with Professor Schlögl is his firm belief that Australasian Fishes project is creating a useful and robust dataset for future research. His professional and academic skills tell him there is great potential value in building a large collection of fish related data. When used with the proper modelling software, he feels the project’s data can help us gain knowledge and insight of the circumstances of Australian marine life. He is very encouraged by the quality and consistency of the data the project is creating, the accuracy of its geolocation, the recording of observation dates and precise species identification. He believes this growing dataset will be extremely useful in future modelling of marine life in Australia, and knows it will one day fit very neatly in to a model of fish life in Australia.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on November 30, 2017 04:16 by markmcg markmcg | 4 comments | Leave a comment