09 de septiembre de 2022

Australasian Fishes Project observations used in Redmap report cards

As many of you know, Redmap the Range Extension and Mapping Project, collects observations of many out-of-range marine organisms. Redmap has just released report cards for Australia, NSW, Tasmania and WA. View them at https://www.redmap.org.au/article/report-card/
The data set behind the report cards included records from Redmap, supplemented by thousands of records from the Australasian Fishes Project and Reef Life Survey (https://reeflifesurvey.com/)
I thought you might like to know that this is yet another scientific endeavour that has utilized observations uploaded by Australasian Fishes Project members.
Thank you as always for the time and effort you put into the project.
Anotado en 09 de septiembre de 2022 a las 06:46 AM por markmcg markmcg | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de septiembre de 2022

Please help me with IDs

I'm Paula Sgarlatta and I'm doing a PhD at UNSW under the supervision of Professors Iain Suthers and Adriana Vergés.
Part of my project involves a lot of diving and shooting fish videos. I'm now analyzing those videos. The tricky part is that I need to identify fish species from sites as far apart as Lizard Island, Qld and Batemans Bay, NSW. So, I thought I would try to enlist some help from the amazing Australasian Fishes Project community.
Some of the videos are blurry and it's difficult to ID the species from screenshots. Mark kindly suggested uploading the videos to YouTube for you to see the species properly and help me with the IDs.
So, if you have a moment, please pop over to the 'Fish ID - Paula' playlist on the Australasian Fishes Project YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0_V5pjo4kdvwkSq9RY68gw, and take a look.
For more information you can contact me via iNaturalist at @paula_sgarlatta or via email, paula.sgarlatta@gmail.com.
Thank you!
Anotado en 01 de septiembre de 2022 a las 12:29 AM por markmcg markmcg | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

22 de agosto de 2022

All washed up!

Stigmatopora harastii or the Red Wide-bodied Pipefish was only recently described in 2020 from a handful of specimens and observations from Botany Bay, south to Shellharbour and Jervis Bay, New South Wales.
Early this year @lynn430 posted an observation of a Red Wide-bodied pipefish washed up at Bawley Point, NSW (left photo, above), during the extreme weather conditions the east coast of Australia has been facing this year. Excitingly this makes @lynn430’s observation the southern-most record of this amazing fish!
One of the earliest observations of the Red Wide-bodied Pipefish was in 2002 in Jervis Bay, where David Harasti, @daveharasti, (whom the fish was named after), along with other scuba divers, reported a red pipefish associated with pale red finger sponges at 18 metres depth. It was subsequently reported occurring at Bass Point, Shellharbour, NSW in red algae at 18 metres depth in 2017. Since then, they have also been found at Minmi Trench in Botany Bay NSW and more recently at The Steps at Kurnell NSW where species co-author Andrew Trevor-Jones (@andrewtrevor-jones, view Member Profile) spent 3 months searching his regular dive sites to determine if the red pipefish also occurred there. With the aid of a dive torch at 18m, Andrew was able to confirm the presence of the species swaying with the algae (right photo, above)
The Red Wide-bodied Pipefish has been observed in semi-exposed bay entrances and ocean embayments in sandy areas, interspersed amongst rocky reefs at depths of 12-25 metres. The habitat around Bawley Point fits this description perfectly, so it is not surprising that this fish was washed up in that area. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to find additional observations of this flamboyant fish at other locations in Australia with similar habitat.
This uniquely red coloured pipefish associates with finger sponges and red algae in strong surge zones between 12-25m. The Red Wide-bodied Pipefish is the fourth member of the genus Stigmatopora to be described from southern Australia (S. nigra, S. argus, S. narinosa and S. harsastii). Like all members of Stigmatopora, the new species has a long snout and thread-like prehensile tail; however, it exhibits red body colouration versus green or brown colouration seen in other species of the genus.
Thank you @lynn430 for uploading this fabulous observation. We look forward to seeing where this fish may be found in the future.
View more photos of this wonderful species.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Kerryn Parkinson, @redfishblue.
Anotado en 22 de agosto de 2022 a las 06:52 AM por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

09 de agosto de 2022

Australasian Fishes Project acknowledged in Noisy Stingray paper

If you cast your mind back 4 years you may recall a journal post called Rays gettin' some Rays. The page included a stunning photo (above left) taken by Javier Delgado Esteban (above right) that shows three Mangrove Whiprays in shallow water at Magnetic Island. Also included in the post was a link to a video in which a clicking sound made by a ray is clearly audible.
Javier initially posted an image of the rays on Instagram where it was seen by Australasian Fishes Project member Lachlan Fetterplace (below right).
After 4 years and some impressive work Lachlan and co-authors have written a fascinating paper about sound production in wild stingrays in which they acknowledge the Australasian Fishes Project.
The authors state, "While it is clear that elasmobranchs can hear and many can also respond to sound in various ways, hearing capacity is not necessarily linked to the ability to produce acoustic sound (Mélotte et al. 2018), and until now there has been limited evidence to suggest that any elasmobranchs have the ability to actively produce sound themselves."
"Here we present the first records of voluntary active sound production in the wild by three individuals of two species of stingray: the mangrove whipray Urogymnus granulatus and the cowtail stingray Pastinachus ater. "
"The sounds recorded from all three individuals were characterised by a series of very short, broadband clicks and were associated with movement of the spiracles and cranial area. In all recorded observations, the ray commenced producing sounds in response to an observer approaching closely, and ceased sound production when the distance between the ray and observer increased. "
"We suggest hypotheses for the potential purposes and mechanisms of the sound production, and highlight that further research into this ability is needed."
I'm not sure how researchers will conduct research into the mechanism of sound production in stingrays, but however it is done, I look forward to reading about it and maybe writing another update.
Mélotte, G., Parmentier, E., Michel, C., Herrel, A. & Boyle, K. Hearing capacities and morphology of the auditory system in Serrasalmidae (Teleostei: Otophysi), Scientific Reports 8, 1 (2018).
Anotado en 09 de agosto de 2022 a las 01:46 AM por markmcg markmcg | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de julio de 2022

Lethal trip over the dam

Last month, Allan Lugg was camping at the caravan park near Burdekin Falls Dam in northern Queensland. In his own words Allan "was doing a bit of iNaturalisting - looking for critters to take pics of and add to my record collection as well as get a bit of exercise". To this end Allan headed downstream, where about a kilometre below the dam, he observed 4 large (900-1000mm) dead Barramundi on the bank. He postulated that the fish died as a result of injuries received while going over the dam wall in the recent flood.
Allan stated, "The dam was still spilling while I was there. It was obvious that flows had been much higher (3-4m) during preceding weeks judging by the silt left on rocks and vegetation. The bottom of the spillway has a number of flow splitters (concrete pillars - see left image below, courtesy of CSIRO) that are intended to dissipate the energy, and it also discharges onto large rocks. I suspect the fish came over the spillway during the high flow (attempted downstream spawning migration perhaps) and sustained injuries from hitting the rocks or flow splitters and then washed up downstream.
Allan said that he walked about 1km of riverbank - so there may have been a lot more dead fish further downstream. He recalled a similar thing happened to Australian Bass downstream of Tallowa Dam 15 or 20 years ago."
Sadly, Allan's observation of dead Barramundi downstream of a dam is not a one-off. View a newspaper article about dozens of large Barramundi dying after going over Peter Faust Dam (right image above).
Thank you Allan for uploading this interesting observation and for your thoughts on the sad demise of these fish.
Anotado en 18 de julio de 2022 a las 08:16 AM por markmcg markmcg | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de junio de 2022

Member profile - Ray Turnbull

Many years ago, I worked one season as a divemaster on a marine archaeological survey, off the coast of Mallorca, Spain. There were quite a few volunteers who cycled through the project for a two-week stint, to assist in our work. One volunteer was a Professor of English, from a large university in the US. He used the project as background for a novel he later wrote, Atlantis Fire. (https://garybraver.com/book/atlantis-fire/ ). I liked the book, but I think my character died halfway through. We kept in touch and 30 years later, his oldest son, Nathan, came to visit us in Australia. Nathan selected a career, away from the academic environment which dominated his home life, to one of field zoology, working as a conservation biologist. His focus was on birds at the time.
Learning about Ray Turnbull (@ray_turnbull), the subject of this bio blurb reminded me of my time with Nathan. Years ago, I was not interested in birds, and he was not that curious about fish. Since that time however, driven by my involvement with citizen science, I now realise that many of the observation and recording tools are shared by these two disparate groups. From knowing Ray Turnbull, I now realise that a focus in birds, does not exclude a passion for fish.
Ray Turnbull, ranked No 17 in the project, with 1,600 observations for Australasian Fishes, is working as a Field Zoologist, most recently for a consulting firm based out of Perth in Western Australia. Most of his work focuses on fauna surveys, primarily birds, throughout the state. He also worked as an Assistant Warden at the Broome Bird Observatory, seasonal Firefighter in Victoria and a Ranger with the NSW NPWS. He even had a stint with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK, which involved species reintroductions and habitat management. This diverse background with a passion for the natural environment had its origin in fishing trips with his father, as a child. His father has been a long time, avid trout fisherman, providing an introduction to the outdoors through fishing forays throughout the Monaro region of NSW. While fish sparked his interest in the natural world, it led to a growing interest in other aspects of nature. At university, however, he developed an interest in other areas of nature, and mostly birding, took priority.
Even though he is a professional scientist, he developed a kindred spirit with friends who are amateur birders. He tells us, “The discipline, the observations, the data recording is very similar to what we are doing in the Australasian Fishes project.” In doing these bio blurbs, I have learned that quite a few of our project participants are birders as well, and many of them have showed me the software they use to record their images and how useful the historical observations have been to science. Ray introduced me to the software he uses, as he discussed his relationship with iNaturalist. He says, “I have been very fortunate in my employment to have been exposed to a wide range of environments and wildlife and this has also led to a broadening of my interests away from just birds and to becoming a better all-round naturalist, however, my main interest these days is birds. I am an avid birder, and the vast majority of my bird observations go onto eBird (https://ebird.org/home ). Observations of all other wildlife now go into iNaturalist. I stumbled upon iNaturalist whilst scouring the internet for identification resources one day and have been hooked ever since. I had been looking for a platform like iNaturalist for quite a while and love the fact that all of my observations, regardless of taxon or location, can be submitted in the one place. I was introduced to the Australasian Fishes project after I submitted my first fish photo. Mark (McGrouther) immediately replied with an invite to join the project and I have been adding observations when I can ever since. I haven’t submitted many observations since leaving Western Australia, but I am still working through a backlog of older observations, not only of fish, to submit. I am a big fan of citizen science. I find that if you are in the field anyway, and recording your observations, then the next logical step is to put those observations to use.”
But how did fish again enter his life? Ray says, “It was on a road trip home from Broome. We had camped a couple of nights at Cape Range on the Ningaloo coast and decided to go snorkelling one day. We hit the water at Oyster Stacks and the abundance and diversity of fish was truly amazing, and I have been trying to get in the water as much as possible ever since. Now we quite often plan our birding trips to areas such as Cairns, where we can squeeze in a bit of snorkelling on the side.” Ray is one of our many participants who only snorkels and favours Go Pros. Currently he uses a Hero 7 Black, on an extension pole and gives us advice, “I mostly shoot in time-lapse mode (0.5sec) rather than video as I find it gives me a better-quality image to work with than cutting a still from a video. It does mean that I occasionally miss a good opportunity, but I find that if I can follow a fish for long enough, I can get a reasonable image. I find that the long pole helps in this respect as I can keep a little distance between me and the fish. I use a 10x lens from Backscatter attached to the GoPro. I also have the 15x macro lens attached for things like blennies and gobies but mostly use it for other non-fish creatures. Overall, I find the GoPro extremely light and practical and very easy to travel with. I also try to do minimal post processing of my images, mainly just cropping and shadow adjustment or the removal of a colour cast.”
We are fortunate to have an experienced field zoologist as part of the Australasian Fishes project, as Ray’s experience can be very useful to both the new and experienced citizen scientists. When asked to provide advice for novice naturalists, he says, “I would suggest finding an area or ‘patch’ as we call it in birding and get to know it well. Learn what is common so that when something else comes along you’ll at least be able to recognise that it is different. Work your patch as regularly as you can as this will build a picture over time of your area, and you can learn things about seasonality and migration and so forth. Also don’t disregard making observations of common species as they might not be common in the future! On the flip side to this I would also suggest taking any opportunity to explore in new places. Looking at unfamiliar things stimulates the learning process and helps build your overall knowledge. Other suggestions for people new to iNaturalist would be to put up as good a photo as you can. Blurry or distant photos make it very difficult to help with identification. Also don’t be afraid to have a stab at putting an identification on your observations before you upload them. If your identification turns out to be incorrect then try and take the time to understand why. Use it as a learning experience.”
Fish identification is always a challenge for project participants, however, the AI of iNaturalist has improved greatly over the past couple of years. Even Ray admits that his fish identification is an ongoing exercise, and he still struggles with several groups. His advice is to do for fish the same thing he does for birds. “I learn the field marks from studying the field guides, and then put this knowledge into practice in the field. Also, the fact that I generally have a photo of the fish allows for further study once out of the water. One of the aspects I like about iNaturalist is the feedback you can get from people identifying your observations. It’s these comments that are quite often the best way to learn about identification, particularly of difficult groups. In my early days, it was my father’s collection of fishing books particularly the Encyclopaedia of Australian Fishing from the 1980’s that were my first fish books. It was these old books that I cut my teeth on with regard to fish identification. Well out of date now but still an interesting read. Other books and references I have found useful include:
Fishes of Australia website
• Tropical Marine Fishes of Australia by Stuart-Smith, Edgar, Green & Shaw
• The Rottnest Island Fish Book by Whisson & Hoschke
• Sea Fishes of Southern Australia by Hutchins & Swainston”
I too must admit I have close friends who are avid birders, and I now find talking citizen science with them (almost) as engaging as discussing fish with AF participants. While birdwatching can consume much time and requires a great deal of stealth, I have come to learn they are kindred spirits in the global effort to observe and document life on the planet. We both use similar tools, and create similar databases, so there is much to talk about, other than feathers for them and scales for us.
With Ray’s insight I now understand Nathan’ s work a little better and I hope our paths will cross again one day.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
The above photo of the Talma was taken by Ray at Coogee Beach in Perth and the photo on the dune was taken in Witsand Nature Reserve in the Kalahari region of South Africa.
Anotado en 20 de junio de 2022 a las 01:56 AM por markmcg markmcg | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

08 de junio de 2022

Stuck on you!

Lynne Tuck (@scubalynne) recently made a very cool observation. She watched a flatworm slide over a Bigbelly Seahorse. When she first noticed the flatworm it was on the seahorse's 'shoulder'. While she watched it moved across the seahorse's head, at one stage covering both of its eyes, then along the snout and finally onto the belly. The seahorse tried to dislodge the flatworm a number of times. To view photos of the flatfish's journey, click on the left image above.
Spotting this interaction was pretty cool, but I'm super impressed that Lynne was able to take photos and video of the action. You can watch the video on the Australasian Fishes Project YouTube channel.
I asked flatworm expert Jorge Rodriguez if it was possible to identify the flatworm. He stated, "The flatworm in this picture is most likely Thysanozoon brocchii. It was probably crawling on the rocks and continued moving on top of the seahorse as if it were part of the substrate. You can discover more about this species in the paper (pages 50 to 51 and plate 21) I published last year about southeastern Australian marine flatworms: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AFiy9JeZlZIOVI68dmrHTyilgGsFCDgT/view?usp=sharing"
This isn't the first observation that shows a fish being 'slid over' by another organism. The following three observations show nudibranchs on fishes.
The two observations below show a seahorse and scorpionfish with invertebrate eggs attached to them - evidence of previous 'visitations'.
And just to turn the tables, here is a small fish on a nudibranch.
Anotado en 08 de junio de 2022 a las 10:55 AM por markmcg markmcg | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de mayo de 2022

Another one!

In March we posted a journal entry (view it) about observations of the rarely encountered Benham's Streamerfish, Agrostichthys parkeri. Since uploading that story another specimen has been observed.
The observation was uploaded by Jaco Grundling (@jacog) who stated, "One of the locals (Samantha Bell) at Mākara Beach spotted the fish when out walking with her dog at Fisherman's Bay. She posted in our local community Facebook page looking for an ID. I thought our best bet finding out what she found was adding it to iNaturalist and linking it to the Australasian Fishes Project. From what she said the fish was about 2m long and still alive when she observed it. It went on land by itself where she observed its tail detach which suggested that it might have been attacked. It eventually writhed back towards the water and entered the shallows."
If this was a contest, New Zealand would be leading 2 to 1. Benham's Streamerfish is a cool water species that is found right around the New Zealand coastline, but in Australian waters is only known from Tasmania and southern Victoria. It would be interesting to see more observations of Benham's Streamerfish. Come on you Cabbage Patchers and Taswegians, you can't let the kiwis outdo you. :)
Anotado en 24 de mayo de 2022 a las 05:19 AM por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de mayo de 2022

World Ocean Day iNaturalists wanted to share knowledge

This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes project member Dr Adam Smith, (@adam_smith3) who is an Adjunct Associate Professor at James Cook University and founder of Reef Ecologic.
To celebrate World Oceans Day 2022 we are asking the iNaturalist community to connect with the ocean and people between 1 and 8 June, 2022 and share photographs of marine life.
If you are an existing member of iNaturalist please introduce a new person such as a beach walker, citizen scientist, snorkelers, SCUBA diver, fisher, tourist, Master Reef Guide, reef ranger, students or photographer to the iNaturalist community. Scanning the QR code, above, will direct you to the iNaturalist sign-up page.
We would love to see your photographs of marine life and we are particularly interested in observations of fish, sharks, corals, shells, turtles and threatened species. Please also let us know if there are any reefs, islands or areas or species you think we should focus on for this event.
We will provide a pre-event online briefing and training for people interested in joining iNaturalist and this World Ocean Day ReefBlitz and FishBlitz on the 31 May. Join here.
We will provide daily updates through social media.
Learn more here, or contact Dr Adam Smith on Adam.smith@reefecologic.org or call 0418726584.
Below are three relevant links.
2. World Ocean Day ReefBlitz information and training event
3. World Ocean Day Marine Life Surveys
Anotado en 12 de mayo de 2022 a las 03:12 AM por markmcg markmcg | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

08 de mayo de 2022

Scientific paper discusses the Australasian Fishes Project

In March 2022, colleagues at the University of New South Wales published a paper in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation (View the paper). The paper is titled "Many cameras make light work: opportunistic photographs of rare species in iNaturalist complement structured surveys of reef fish to better understand species richness."
In the abstract of the paper, the senior author, Dr Christopher Roberts @cj_roberts (see photo above) and his co-authors state that "Citizen science is on the rise, with growing numbers of initiatives, participants and increasing interest from the broader scientific community. iNaturalist is an example of a successful citizen science platform that enables users to opportunistically capture and share biodiversity observations." I don't think any of us would disagree with that statement.
They "compared the opportunistic fish photographs from iNaturalist to those obtained from structured surveys [conducted by] Reef Life Survey at eight study reefs in Sydney, Australia over twelve years.", and found that "iNaturalist recorded 1.2 to 5.5 times more fish species than structured surveys resulting in significantly greater annual species richness at half of the reefs, with the remainder showing no significant difference."
In terms of ease of use, they stated that "iNaturalist likely recorded more species due to having simple methods, which allowed for broad participation with substantially more iNaturalist observation events (e.g., dives) than structured surveys over the same period."
Opportunistic observations such as those uploaded into iNaturalist have limitations but the authors state that "These results demonstrate the value of opportunistic citizen science platforms for documenting fish species richness, particularly where access and use of the marine environment is common and communities have the time and resources for expensive recreational activities (i.e., underwater photography)."
Interestingly, "The datasets also recorded different species composition with iNaturalist recording many rare, less abundant, or cryptic species while the structured surveys captured many common and abundant species."
The authors end the abstract by saying, "These results suggest that integrating data from both opportunistic and structured data sources is likely to have the best outcome for future biodiversity monitoring and conservation activities."
So what's the take-home-message? For me, it's that iNaturalist is an incredibly powerful citizen science platform and the efforts of Australasian Fishes Project users are contributing to a better understanding of the natural world. Pat yourselves on the back and please continuing to upload your observations - not just those of strange or rare fishes, but also of common species.
Anotado en 08 de mayo de 2022 a las 10:47 AM por markmcg markmcg | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario