Journal archives for March 2020

March 18, 2020

New Fusilier for Lord Howe Island

Well done to Caitlin Woods for photographing and uploading a new fish record for Lord Howe Island.
On February 23, 2020. Caitlin observed a school of Scissor-tailed Fusilier, Caesio caerulaurea, swimming at a depth of 20m at Deacon's Delight, a dive spot west of Malabar Hill at the northern end of the island. This is the first record of this species for Lord Howe Island.
In Australia, Caesio caerulaurea has previously been recorded from tropical waters of Christmas Island, from Shark Bay to Cassini Island and Scott Reef in Western Australia, from Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea and from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland south to Sydney, New South Wales. View the Australian Faunal Directory page.
According to Malcolm Francis’ Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean, 537 species of fishes have been recorded from Lord Howe Island. Caitlin’s recent observation of Caesio caerulaurea brings the number of species in the family Caesionidae known from Lord Howe Island to three.
Reference: Francis, Malcolm (2019): Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. figshare. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4428305.v1
Posted on March 18, 2020 02:06 by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 20, 2020

Member profile - Martin Crossley

During a recent visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, my wife and I made a pilgrimage, hiking along a narrow tropical path, across a lava field, to the water’s edge to arrive at the location where Captain James Cook, a Yorkshireman, met his demise at the hands of the locals in 1779. In the jungle there is an isolated monument built in 1874, by some of his fellow countrymen and nearby, is a plaque, surprising similar to the one at Kurnell, also mounted in the shallows, marking the place where he fell. The Hawaiian and the Australian plaques illustrate how a native son of York had travelled a great distance from home, as did the subject of this bio blurb, Martin Crossley.
Martin grew up in the Wuthering Heights region of West Yorkshire, a long way from the sea. He spent many hours as a child wandering the moors with a pair of binoculars and a camera, loving everything wild and natural. Like many in the project, the undersea world was first delivered to him via television, starting with Jacque Cousteau’s documentaries on BBC and films about the Great Barrier Reef which he viewed with his family as they gathered around the TV on Sunday evenings in the 1970s.
He recalls one family holiday in Cornwall in 1972 where he saw fishermen showing off Blue Sharks on the quayside. This motivated him to buy a cheap mask and snorkel, starting him on a search of rock pools in the chilly British summer waters. He recalls his Dad dissecting a mackerel as his introduction to fish biology which, 14 years later contributed to him ending up with an honours degree in Physiology. During his post grad backpacking tour of the planet in 1986, he visited the coral reefs of Hawaii and Fiji, exploring the backroads and small coastal villages and unlike his countryman, Capt. Cook, however, he avoided being killed by the locals.
These travels started a chain reaction of events, beginning with his PADI Open Water course in Cairns in 1987, and more backpacking in tropical climes. Upon returning to the UK he worked in Scottish salmon farms and began a career in laboratory science. As part of his rehabilitation following a serious motorcycle accident, he earned his PADI Advanced Diver rating and worked in environmental and hazardous waste management in Saudi Arabia. He says, “With evenings free and none of the usual western distractions i.e. no pubs, I went through Rescue Diver and Dive Master in 12 months and onto my Instructors course in Hurghada, Egypt by 1998.” His time in Saudi Arabia was well spent diving across the kingdom, visiting sites which were extremely remote. It was during this time he got his hands on a Sealife underwater camera with a housing that deformed and stopped operating past 15m. It contained a cheap, self-winding, fixed focus 35mm film camera, however, it took him on his first steps along the challenging path of marine photography. This led to an interest in remembering fish species he saw and a lifelong passion for underwater images.
He offers the following advice to aspiring underwater photographers, to capture that perfect fish image:
1. How to get the best angle: “I employ two basic approaches; i) the patient, sit and wait approach, and ii) the ambush. There is a third, iii) called “I had no idea that was going to happen”, and includes such occasions like when a 14m Humpback Whale unexpectedly swims into view followed by 6 sharks and three species of turtle...yes it did happen…and yes my batteries were flat, but I don’t care if you don’t believe me! Don’t chase a fish, you will only get tail shots, it is pointless. However, with sharks it might be all the chance you get. If the subject it heading away around a pylon, get your buddy to swim round the other side and shepherd it back. Seahorses generally turn away from light at night, so it's best to sneakily illuminate them with the fringe of the light cone, then ambush them in rapid shutter burst mode! Flash is not going to work so a video light is essential. Most octopus can’t resist a wriggling finger and can be tempted out of a hole with a couple of minutes patient coaxing.”
2. How to get the best lighting: “A torch is essential even on a reef in broad daylight, and your 1000 lumen primary torch is an essential tool for illuminating dark crevices where we would otherwise have to move in close and let our eyes adjust. For video you definitely need a good powerful lamp to bring out the reds beyond 10m depth. Accept that in order to get great shots, you are going to have to get good at post photo editing. The Windows photo editor is a very useful (and usually FREE) option, performing good JPEG manipulation and may be your only practicable option if using a laptop unless you have a great processor. With a decent PC you can step up to RAW editing and then you are into Adobe Photoshop and “Lightroom” territory. You cannot beat the hand held torch for creating those moody shadows across the subject or for direct on-subject spotlighting, similar to snooking, to eliminate all that back scatter. It’s the second biggest consideration I’m still learning to master now that I’m doing a lot more night photography, the first being that ‘lighting is everything’. And of course, the adage “get closer, then get closer again” still applies to everything.”
3. Using the right camera gear for you: “I presently own an Olympus TG5 and Olympus housing in a generic cradle, with Sea &Sea YS01 strobe (because of the TTL and flash brightness override) a 3800 lumen BigBlue video light, along with a Hyperion 1000 lumen hand torch. I’ve arrived at this combination through a number of careful considerations – but mostly because I have children and a mortgage. I miss not having the truly manual full control camera, but see a time when these will be affordable as the inevitable demise of the big camera/housings combo occurs. The macro results in particular from the TG5 are amazing, as is the 4K video. Results even without a fisheye have been fantastic with the strobe during daylight. I’ve twice been approached with requests to use my photos seen on iNaturalist, one from the US Geographic Survey organisation and one by a private publisher for a book, so I must be doing something right.”
4. How get the best photography experience: “I now teach UW Photography, including teaching students how to not only look after their kit and improve their chances of getting that great picture, but also about being respectful of the marine environment and other divers and seeing marine creatures for the beautiful and wondrous creatures that they all are. When teaching I often draw a parallel with a typical walk through your local park. How many different species of animal can you count? A few birds, maybe a rabbit if you are lucky. How many animals course their way over to have a look at you then saunter off, going about their own business? Apart from maybe someone's dog, none. The underwater environment is truly awesome, and you get to fly weightless in 3D into the bargain!”
Like our other famous Yorkshiremen, Martin has travelled a great deal for work. He worked across the United Arab Emirates, diving whenever possible and on the odd occasion being able to combine his scuba skills with marine contamination sampling work, spending 11 years in the Middle East. His passion for the natural environment drove him to continue his studies in environmental management gaining a Masters Degree with merit from the Imperial College UOL in 2008, which opened career doors and a move into consultancy. He worked as an environmental advisor to the Coal Seam Gas industry and his tenure at the BP/Shell owned Queensland Gas Company, setting up a turtle triage centre in the GAWB Barramundi hatchery amongst other chances to protect fauna and flora across the CSG/LNG projects. He eventually moved to Queensland, where he dived extensively and has settled in Perth.
Martin is strong believer in citizen science and feels that contributing to such projects, “...not only gives you something to brag about to friend and work colleagues but creates a great sense of worth. When someone comments about your observation being the first sighting in that area, or an increase in known maximum length, or simply someone says ‘great observation’, the feeling is priceless." He continues, “Witnessing the pressures of man’s so-called development in the name of economics at the expense of the natural environment was a tough pill to swallow. I was determined to formally qualify my experience and be better informed and capable of defending the natural world.”
He concludes reflecting on the social aspects of diving, “Since scaling back my career ego, and moving to Perth, my dive life has taken a major change of gear and I am experiencing a diving fraternity more heart-warming than I’ve experienced anywhere before. Having spent 9 months alone in Perth before the family removed from Brisbane, diving became my lifeline, forming friends through the Perth Scuba shop club and other Facebook groups. As a regular I came to know the local dive sites and flora and fauna well and through evidence of my photographic abilities gained the confidence of local peers and earned a regular spot as the club night dive guy. And then I discovered iNaturalist! It arrived at an opportune when I needed to stay in and save money and so served a very useful purpose, keeping me occupied nightly with identifications, photo processing and uploading, but it grew to become a far greater sense of feeling like I was making a worthwhile contribution. I sometimes stop and remind myself that there aren’t the hordes of people taking photos underwater like on land and, as well as the huge financial commitment that each of us bear, as contributors to citizen science projects, we are kind of special.”
Martin, known as jmartincrossley, is ranked 15th on the project leader board, supplying 1,339 observations to Australasian Fishes, documenting 375 species for us. His brief bio on the site, https://www.inaturalist.org/people/jmartincrossley, records some of his travels in his 32 years of diving and shows how far this Yorkshireman was willing to journey from home.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted on March 20, 2020 06:28 by markmcg markmcg | 0 comments | Leave a comment