Journal archives for August 2018

August 06, 2018

Super Sascha - 25,000 IDs and counting!

The Australasian Fishes project is thriving due to the enthusiastic input from many people. Thank you all, especially to those of you who are experts in a particular groups of fishes.
One person in particular however deserves special recognition. A quick glance at the identifications leader board shows the outstanding contribution made by Sascha Schulz. Since Australasian Fishes went online in October 2016, Sacha has made over 25,000 identifications.
In addition to playing a major role in the smooth running of Australasian Fishes, Sascha administers another iNaturalist project, Seaslugs of the World, where he has made over 2,500 identifications.
This is truly a monumental effort, and we are all very grateful for the time and expertise that Sascha brings to the project. Thank you Sascha! :)
Read more about Sascha in his member profile.
Posted on August 06, 2018 06:34 by markmcg markmcg | 12 comments | Leave a comment

August 09, 2018

More on 'that' yellow Chub

The journal entry 'Yellow Chub' (26 July 2018) told the story of a xanthic Bermuda Chub, Kyphosus sectatrix* speared by Vin Rushworth on a southern Abrolhos shoal, Western Australia. Since publishing that post more information has come to light via kyphosid experts Kendall Clements and Steen Knudsen.
The fish was initially identified as a Buffalo Bream, Kyphosus cornelii, but Kendall and Steen subsequently identified it as Kyphosus sectatrix and stated that K. sectatrix is the only species of Kyphosus in which xanthism has been reported. The right image shows a Kyphosus sectatrix from Trinidade Island, Brazil that was identified by Kendall.
Steen stated, "This speared Kyphosus from the Abrolhos is a first record of K. sectatrix from the western Australian coast, and a first record of a xanthic K. sectatrix from this part of the world."
Specimens of xanthic Kyphosus sectatrix have been reported from the Kermadec Islands (New Zealand), Hawaiian Islands, the Azores in the Atlantic, the Bonin Islands off Japan and from the Revillagigedo Islands off Mexico.
Steen wrote, "Kendall and I collected K. bigibbus at Ningaloo reef, and K. cornelii, K. gladius and K. sydneyanus at the Abrolhos and at Yallingup reef. But we have not collected any K. sectatrix from south Western Australia before. Kyphosus sectatrix is occasionally found in northern New Zealand, and as this species is widely distributed around the world, I am not surprised that it also is able to make it to south Western Australia.
Thank you again Kendall and Steen for providing your time and expertise, and Vin for submitting such an interesting observation.
*The Bermuda Chub is better known in Australia as Beaked Chub.
Posted on August 09, 2018 07:10 by markmcg markmcg | 6 comments | Leave a comment

August 28, 2018

Member profile -Georgia Poyner

Marvel comics has Wonder woman. Star Wars has Rey, Tomb Raider has Laura Croft and Australasian Fishes has Georgia Poyner. While Marvel Comics, Star Wars and computer games are only imitations of life, Georgia is the real thing, as her YouTube Chanel illustrates. Georgia is ranked in the project, at this time at 39th place, with 133 observations of 83 different species. Readers will note that this is a very high rate of species per submission, but Georgia is unique. Firstly she is only 17 years old. Secondly, she is a sponsored sportsperson, in the process of creating her own image and brand based upon her passion for the ocean environment. Finally, she feels she is not that gifted in the use of technology, but I will let the viewer reach their own conclusions regarding how she shares her underwater adventures so effectively with project participants and the world.
Her personal YouTube channel features over a dozen videos, each introducing the viewer to the amazing underwater world of the New South Wales South Coast. Be warned, her films are often set to adrenaline pumping music paired with blood pumping images. A typical video would feature cameos of whales, sharks, turtles, seals, various fishes and even the occasional terrestrial plastic sea life models. A typical Georgia video will feature not only the familiar species we are accustomed to seeing as observations in the Australasian Fishes Project, but also gives us a first-person view of someone freediving, spearfishing, stalking gamefish and even enjoying encounters with species we rarely see such as crays, billfish and the occasional whale. Each video shows us, in high definition, the amazing world which appears to be her playground. They show viewers small samples of how the Year 12 student experiences the joy and wonder of spending time underwater. After watching a few of her short films, it is clear she plans to show her viewers a world of adventure, with fast action, sudden surprises and slickly edited videos of some of the things which makes underwater Australia unique and amazing.
Yes, some of the views may seem familiar, and you can see similar images in places like the Discovery Channel or in ocean documentaries. While the sea life may seem familiar, none of them adequately broadcast the pure joy and excitement which come from personally interacting with this amazing environment. Her videos clearly illustrate the raw joy which comes from being surrounded by those truly “golden moments” which can only be experienced through diving, snorkelling or otherwise being a temporary visitor of the ocean environment. Some of us in the project may have shared similar underwater moments such as interacting with seals, communing with an inquisitive octopus or being enveloped by a large school of fish. Those are fond memories, where we suddenly change from observer and citizen scientists to become, briefly, an honorary member of the underwater community. On the other hand, those of us who also have had those moments of awe, also recognise that for each such moment, when we suddenly witness nature’s majesty, there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours where, we were wet, cold and “not much happened”. But we recognise that for all those “not much happened dives” there will come the sudden, unexpected events where it all seems so worthwhile. Gerogia has captured, distilled, edited, provided soundtrack and posted on her channel, some of those moments for all of us to enjoy.
Like many participants in the project, Georgia started her underwater adventures at a very early age. As soon as she was born her father had her in a back pack, taking her fishing where ever he went. Being fortunate to live in the small coastal NSW town of Narooma, on the Pacific Ocean she learned to take every opportunity possible to be in or on it. This access to the sea eventually coupled with her natural passion for animals developed in to a strong attraction for fishes and all things marine. As she grew older and spent more time in the ocean, she found them to be amazing creatures that are also fun to catch and taste good as well.
Her parents introduced her early to the serious side of marine science as well, taking her and her siblings to marine science forums, where her interests in the ocean continued to develop, but more importantly she found an outlet to share her passion with other cool “fishy people” (aka marine biologists and researchers). For example, when she was only 15 one of the people she met at a forum (who is now a good friend) convinced her to become involved with tropical fish survey work for Dr David Booth (UTS, Sydney). This started a whole new obsession with tropical fishes! It also highlighted for her the impact of changes in the water which has resulted in her seeing that some of those tropical species are now turning up on her southern coastline. The out of range reports in the project clearly illustrate this as well, as seen in past Journal postings. Georgia is seeing, for the first time many topicals which have never been sighted as far south as Narooma. Of course, this adds to her already apparent passion for the sea, never knowing if you are going to meet up with a fish which is truly far from home. Like many of the Project’s participants she finds this dimension of ocean exploration extremely addictive. Never knowing what she might find during each encounter is a force which has been driving her to the sea. I would suggest many in the project can relate to this feeling. The idea that no matter how many times you swim over the same piece of underwater real estate, there is always a chance of seeing something new and unusual, which was not there before.
Like most of her generation, the collection of images is a part of her normal activity. She collects fish images as often as she can and sometimes the result is shared with the public through the videos we see on her channel. Georgia also enters her images in competition and has had several submissions make it to the Top 10 finals in the ANZANG Australian Geographic photographic competition. She swims with a camera most of the time and it is usually ready in case an opportunity arises. As a result, she has a large collection of images which she promises to upload to the Australasian Fishes project sometime soon.
One of Georgia's favourite cameras for underwater photography is her Canon Powershot D30. Being small It fits into her wetsuit pocket perfectly making it easy to carry. From the channel it is clear she also truly enjoys using GoPros and the Sony RX Mark 1 in a Recsea Housing. These are also relatively small cameras; however, the Sony has a much larger sensor than most compact cameras, making the overall image quality very good. When Georgia is scuba diving she’ll use UW video lights or strobes. She encourages other participants to try using lights at night too.
Her advice to project participants is to get out in the marine environment as much as possible as more time in the water is handy in gathering a good understanding of that environment. She found that by hunting fish whilst fishing or spearfishing an individual can learn a great deal about fish behaviour as well as covering large areas, therefore, learning a lot about what environments species prefer. For example, she noted that while her and her father have been cray hunting in shallow surgy water, black cod, Epinephelus daemelii also inhabit the same terrain. When seeing one, look for the other.
I too have learned many lessons from Georgia’s YouTube channel and from the way she assembles her images and collects her thoughts. It would be impossible to capture, in brief bio blubs like this how participants really feel about their time underwater, as it is a very personal and often profound thing. Many of the project participants spend endless hours underwater, not only seeking images for science but also, perhaps, visiting one of their places of contemplation and enjoyment. You need not take my word for it. To learn more about this gifted Australasian Fishes participant I would suggest you first listen to the opening lines of her film, Heywire . In the video’s early segments, set against views of schools of fish and various marine creatures, she reminds us that few people realise that so many amazing things can be found right on our doorsteps. In her case, the Pacific Ocean is on that doorstep and she views this amazing world as something truly of value to her and her family. Her videos back up this view, providing us with brief glimpses of the “shock and awe” which can be encounter by those who are willing to invest time in exploring the nature found so close to home.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on August 28, 2018 06:26 by markmcg markmcg | 9 comments | Leave a comment