Diario del proyecto Australasian fishes

06 de junio de 2024

Terrific photos from the remote Kermadec Islands

The Kermadec Islands lie about 800–1,000 km northeast of New Zealand's North Island and a similar distance southwest of Tonga. These islands, rich in marine biodiversity, have been the focus of a number of scientific expeditions.
Malcolm Francis has a profound connection with the Kermadec Islands, having visited them on five occasions. His extensive fieldwork has resulted in the recent upload of 240 observations of fishes, representing 87 species. He has just written a journal post about his Kermadec trips.
In 2011, I had the privilege of joining Malcolm on an expedition to the Kermadec Islands. This journey, documented by the Australian Museum, was a terrific opportunity to witness firsthand the pristine beauty and ecological richness of this island group.
Beyond his work in the Kermadec Islands, Malcolm has also made significant contributions to the study of White Sharks and has published 5 editions of 'Coastal Fishes of New Zealand'. His expertise in marine biology extends to maintaining the online checklist of fishes from Lord Howe, Norfolk, and the Kermadec Islands.
Thank you Malcolm for your years of ichthyological work and for being a member of the Australasian Fishes community.
Publicado el 06 de junio de 2024 a las 01:48 AM por markmcg markmcg | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de junio de 2024

Scientist Member Profile - Dr Elodie Camprasse

In Australia today, there are several marine experiences which are regarded as “must dos” for serious marine enthusiasts. Typical examples include diving at the Great Barrier Reef, swimming with whale sharks in WA, diving with giant cuttlefish in Whyalla, photographing Grey Nurse Sharks in NSW and, of course, joining the Australasian Fishes project. Maybe not so much the last one, however, another of those classic dives includes witnessing the spider crab aggregation in Victoria. These aggregations are drawing more and more divers to the southern parts of the country, as they seek to witness the masses of spider crabs covering the seabed of places like Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. Usually occurring in May and June, masses of spider crabs come to the shallows to congregate and moult their shells. Of course, this attracted the attention of both the professional and citizen scientists, including our 18th top observer in Australasian Fishes, Dr Elodie Camprasse of Deakin University. Here’s more about Elodie and her passion for the Great Southern Reef and the spider crab.
Please tell us a little about yourself and the origins of your interest in nature and fish.
My name is Elodie. I am a marine ecologist with a passion for scuba diving, underwater photography and science communication. I got my passion for the ocean and desire to understand and protect marine life from my teenage years, when I learned scuba diving. Later in life, I learned underwater photography as a way to document the amazing life I was witnessing underwater and to raise awareness for the protection of ocean life.
I came to Australia more than 10 years ago to do my PhD at Deakin University on seabird hunting strategies. I fell in love with Australia's biodiversity above and below the surface. Previously a project manager for nature-connection charity Remember The Wild, I have led projects and initiatives aimed at connecting people with the local environment and increasing appreciation and stewardship for the marine world.
I now lead the implementation of the citizen science program Spider Crab Watch, and provides support to implement traditional research, to gather data on the mysterious great spider crabs and their spectacular gatherings. I am passionate about increasing the public’s awareness of the amazing biodiversity of the Great Southern Reef and filling gaps in knowledge that surrounds many of its inhabitants.
We are very grateful for your support and observations for Australasian Fishes. Could you talk a little about why you were attracted to iNat?
I started using iNaturalist when I realised how little we know about the creatures in my blue backyard - the Great Southern Reef. I was preparing some social media posts for ‘Threatened Species Day' and I wanted to showcase threatened species I would have interacted with on the Great Southern Reef. I could think of a few, of course, but this led me to do some research and I was shocked at the number of species whose conservation status is unknown because no one has assessed them. Even basic information about the life history, distribution, habitat requirements of marine life, and fish in particular, is not available at times, even in some iconic species. So I felt like my images, which I was already taking anyway, could help fill some of these gaps in knowledge. I only found out about projects after using iNaturalist for a little while though. People were commenting on my observations and asking me if I could contribute to their projects. I then started researching relevant projects I could contribute to (e.g. projects in my little patch (Naarm or Port Phillip Bay / Victoria), or projects for taxa I often observe, like fishes). Now, when I go to an area I am unfamiliar with, I always look in that area to see if there are relevant projects I could contribute to, or if I start paying attention to different taxonomic groups, I’ll look for relevant projects, too. I upload images from most of my dives. It takes me a while, but I love it because I feel like I can turn my images into data for various scientists working on different taxa and generate new insights about Australian marine life, their behaviours and distributions. On top of that, I sharpen my ID skills in the process. I am in the process of working with a data scientist to streamline the process and make uploading images faster to try to save some time here. If we get something working well, we’d be keen to release it to people that might find it useful.
You spend a lot of time in the water, both professionally and for fun. Do you recall any underwater incidents which left a lasting impression on you?
I’ll always remember a close encounter I had with a big six-spine leatherjacket at Rapid Bay jetty. It was really inquisitive and I couldn’t work out why it was ‘charging me’ then backing off, and coming at me again, several times. I had mask issues and couldn’t see the screen of my camera, through which I was trying to photograph the action, very well. When I got out of the water, I looked at my lens and couldn’t believe it when I saw dozens of teeth marks on it – not moving away quicker had turned out to be a costly mistake as I tried to fix the scratches to no avail and had to replace the lens. In hindsight, I understood the fish was probably attacking its own reflection!
You are a strong supporter of education in the marine environment. What words would you offer to our project participants, especially the new members just starting out?
I’d say that one of the main advantages of using iNaturalist is that it gives people an opportunity to ID the critters they care about. The AI that provides suggestions when users upload observations onto iNaturalist can be a pretty good place to start – though it will only perform well if there have been enough images of a species so it can recognise it in different conditions. Some places and some taxa will be worse than others, so it’s always best to check and have a look at a few photos of the suggested species/taxa to make sure it looks right. But then, if you get it wrong, other people will pitch in with IDs anyway, so it’s not the end of the world! The more people agree on the ID, the more certainty you’ll have. I am pretty familiar with the marine animals I can come across in my little patch now, but if I go to a new area and want to know what to expect, I’ll do a search on iNaturalist and see what comes up. I might just narrow it down to a specific place on a map, or further, to specific taxa within that place I am going to. I would go back to that list if I am struggling to identify something. Say I’ve seen an unfamiliar fish species at Edithburgh jetty I want to ID; I’d go to the “Explore” section of iNaturalist, draw a rectangle around that area (actually, probably the Fleurieu Peninsula as a whole to be on the safe side), filter by ‘ray-finned fishes’ for example, and go to the list of species. I’ll look at the images of the different species and try to narrow down options. Then I might go into more details and click on the species’ profiles to see what comes up, bearing in mind that with fishes, juveniles can look quite different to adults, males to females, etc. I find that this approach gives me very good results, and then, when people confirm (or not!) that I had the right IDs, I can learn further. I also often go back to my own observations when I feel like I’ve seen a species before, but can’t recall the ID. The beauty of iNaturalist is that you can go through all that effort – if you want! But you don’t have to, as other people are able to pitch in and suggest ideas. I am pretty hopeless at plants or algae, and I currently don’t have the time to go through all my field guides, so for these taxa, I am usually just happy to learn from the IDs other users suggest to me. The last piece of advice I could offer is, if you were sure that you had identified something correctly but other users suggest different IDs, tag them in the comments and ask them to point out the characteristic features that led them to disagree with you. Often times, there are features that will make an ID almost certain (e.g. the number of placement of dorsal fins in fishes), but unless you know what to look for, they won’t necessarily be obvious. If people point these out to you, then your learning becomes faster, and the iNaturalist community is usually very welcoming and open to providing tips to people who are novice naturalists. We all have to start somewhere!
We are very grateful to Dr Camprasse for her 2,517 observations in Australasian Fishes, covering 379 species. For those of you interested in obtaining more detailed information about spider crabs, Dr Camprasse’s paper can be found here. It should be one of the scientific papers you read this year. Australasian Fishes greatly values the support of professional scientists for our project, and more importantly, their support and facilitation of citizen science across the marine science discipline.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Publicado el 01 de junio de 2024 a las 06:24 AM por markmcg markmcg | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de mayo de 2024

Blackbarred Reefgoby - a new record for Australia

Kristin Anderson, @kjadiver, took this wonderful photograph of a Blackbarred Reefgoby, Priolepis nocturna, at a depth of about 12m near Exmouth, North West Cape, Western Australia. It's a new record for Australia!
Kristin stated, "I'd seen individuals of this species many times but usually they were very skittish, darting back out of sight immediately, or they were tucked in an awkward to photograph place, so I rarely spent much time trying to photograph them. It's one of my favourite sites, so I was confident I'd get the chance eventually! During this dive, finally, one was looking out from a better ledge and stayed long enough for a couple of snaps."
The identification of the fish was confirmed by Western Australian Museum Fish Curator Dr Glenn Moore, @gmoo, and goby expert Dr Helen Larson. Many thanks to you both.
The species has been recorded from localities throughout the Indo-Pacific. See the distribution map on the Fishbase website.
Prior to Kristen's discovery, 13 species of Priolepis were known From Australian waters (view the Australian Faunal Directory). Currently the Australasian Fishes Project has observations of only 4 of these.
It would be good to improve our coverage of the genus Priolepis. Please check your goby photographs from coastal waters of New South Wales and Lord Howe Island? You may uncover an image of a Blue-head Reefgoby, Priolepis cyanocephala. If you do, please upload it and let me know.
Thank you Kristin for uploading this important observation and for your ongoing support for the Australasian Fishes Project.
Publicado el 23 de mayo de 2024 a las 01:25 AM por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de mayo de 2024

Western Crested Morwong in South Australia

Matt Tank, @mtank, photographed this Western Crested Morwong, Goniistius gibbosus, at Port Noarlunga Jetty, South Australia. He realized that the fish was well east of its official range, in fact the species hasn't been formally recognized from South Australia. The Australian Faunal Directory states that Goniistius gibbosus occurs in coastal Western Australian waters from Shark Bay (25°30'S) to the Recherche Archipelago (122°27'E).
Janine Baker, @marinejanine, stated that "Yes, WCM has made an out of range home here. Not sure how extensive the population is, since records are localised. Probable that more eastern and western (in this case) species will become resident as southern ocean conditions keep changing."
Matt stated, "You might have noticed that there's a number of observations of this species from the same location in the last two years or so (maybe even the same individual?). I had actually seen some of these a week or two before I recorded my own observation, so it wasn't entirely unexpected. I found it underneath the stairs at the end of the jetty, which is a little bit deeper than the sandy bottom just in front of the reef, about 7m in low tide. I'm not sure if you know of the area, but here's an image."
"Given the depth and me being on snorkel, I didn't get to spend a lot of time with it, but it seemed perfectly happy foraging around the bottom. It moved off when I got too close, but wasn't too concerned. I don't know what this species' behaviour is usually like around people, but to me it acted much like any other morwong I've seen - not too skittish but not overly curious."
Matt also stated, "I'm not sure if it's useful information, but this happend to be virtually the same location that a handful of out-of-range Scorpis lineolata observations were made too. I doubt they're related, but maybe worth mentioning."
Read more about Matt on his Australasian Fishes Project member profile.
Publicado el 20 de mayo de 2024 a las 02:17 AM por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de abril de 2024

300,000 observations!

Just in case you missed it, the Australasian Fishes Project recently passed another significant milestone. The project now contains over 300,000 observations.
The 300,000th observation was submitted by project stalwart Harry Rosenthal. It shows an Eastern Smooth Boxfish photographed in Port Hacking.
Congratulations Harry!
Publicado el 24 de abril de 2024 a las 06:20 AM por markmcg markmcg | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

08 de abril de 2024

Member profile - Meta4

A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the sand, at a local beach, taking a break between dives where I was taking fish pictures for the project. Several of the nearby rockpool swimmers, also locals, recognised my gear and came over to say hello, and generally enquire about sharks.
This time, as one of the swimmers walked over, we both noticed a large sailboat leaving the river for the open ocean. My friend remarked that it was his dream to one day, buy a sailboat and travel around the world.” Looking at me, he must have picked up that I did not share his dream. “Yes,” I remarked, “I like 'the idea' of sailing the world, as a concept, it sounded quite pleasing.” I was probably not very convincing. I do, however, have what I believe to be, a typical realistic 'sailing off into the sunset' story. In my case two of my friends who met and dated for a while, decided sailing was their future. They both sold off all their worldly belongings, bought a sailboat, tried to learn how to sail, failed to learn the basics, had a falling out and eventually, went their separate ways, selling the boat. Perhaps that put me off the idea of cruising the world, without worries.
That said, there must be something magical as well as educational about traveling around on a private boat, exploring the remaining 70% of the earth’s surface. For someone interested in the natural environment, it must be a life-changing experience, bringing the naturalist into close contact with the environment.
An example of someone who actually sailed off into the sunset is this bio blurb’s subject, Owen. He is one of the leading fish identifiers in the project. Known to project participants as @meta4, he is ranked 7th on identifications list, contributing 15,621 identifications to Australasian Fishes. He has posted over 66,551 identifications across the iNaturalist. Personally, I am extremely grateful to Owen, especially with his identifications of marine tropical fish, of which he seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge.
Before his experience cruising, Owen grew up in Queensland. (He notes that for the last five years, he’s been 'exiled' to an inland town in Victoria.) Growing up, Owen was always interested in nature, but was obsessed with marine and freshwater life. He tells us that, “By age 9 or 10, I was making dip nets, exploring local creeks and keeping freshwater fish. I bought my first fish book (Jacaranda pocket guide to fishes of Australia by G.P. Whitley) and started learning Latin names.”
A couple of years later, Owen was snorkeling, observing and catching fish in the wild. He kept up with his aquarium hobby and by the time he was in high school, he spent afternoons and weekends working in one of the first aquarium shops in his area which featured marine fish.
This appears to be the real beginning of a career path to becoming a passionate naturalist. He tells us part of the job of working in the shop was, “Unpacking the new shipments to see which brightly coloured species had arrived. This was always exciting.”
Upon leaving school and getting a job, he suddenly had an income that went on scuba equipment and underwater cameras. Furthermore, he kept a saltwater aquarium and continued to find much pleasure in observing marine fish in their natural environment. As mentioned above, he lived aboard a yacht for four years and dove all along Queensland's east coast and spent a year in Papua New Guinea. As you might expect, the cruising experience made a big impression, as previously he had a career in big computers (when that was a thing), but after his time at sea, he found it difficult to settle down. Career changes followed.
He was next employed as a nature guide at Cape York and Qld National Parks for 20 years. Later he went to uni and got a science degree. With the degree he tells us, “I worked in environmental consulting as an ecologist and got to travel all over Queensland as well as large parts of the Northern Territory and NSW.”
Being a naturalist as both a profession and a hobby has remained with Owen. He tells me that he spends some time on iNat most days. “I started because I had an interest in the orchids of Victoria and wanted to learn what's here and where they are. I also did it to stay in touch with the plants and animals I was familiar with from back in Queensland and learn more about the flora and fauna of where I'm living now. Fish were always my first love and I usually start with fish on iNat, before moving on to see what orchids and general flora and fauna are showing up.”
He finds that iNaturalist is an exceptional educational tool, expanding his understanding of the natural world, even in places he has never visited. He tells us, “I haven't dived in southern Australia and before I found iNat, I mostly knew the temperate fish fauna from books. But iNat has been a great way to increase my knowledge of that area. I have a lot of fish ids on iNat, but they only account for about a quarter of my total. Biogeography has always fascinated me and I've always been interested in what occurs where, what doesn't and why. iNat gives a great overall view of the ranges for a wide spectrum of species. iNat is also good for finding others with interests that overlap and exchanging information. I've made some good friends through iNat and had some memorable field trips with them.”
With his vast professional experience with nature and the iNaturalist software, I asked Owen to give us some words of advice for our newer project and iNat participants. He suggests, “iNat isn't just for posting your observations, it's a great information source. You can use it to find out what occurs where you are or anywhere you are interested in and see photos that show the variation within a species, much better than books can.”
For those posting observations, Owen suggests, “When you are uploading to iNat, the better your photos, the easier it is for someone to id. The subject should be in focus and where possible, prominent in the image. It helps if the image shows the features that help to id the species and distinguish it from similar species. If you don't know which features will help to id something, the better the photo or photos, the better your chances of getting an id.”
Using trees as an example, Owen tells us, “Eucalypts are a good example for this. To identify most eucalypt trees, a botanist needs to see details of the bark, the leaves, the buds and gumnuts as well as the tree shape. Often, I can come close to an id for a eucalypt tree from just the bark or a general photo, but can't tell which of three very similar species without seeing the buds or gumnuts. It's frustrating to see so many eucalypt uploads that just have one photo and are probably never going to be identified.”
It’s remarkable to think that the dream of cruising the seven seas can either set you on a fulfilling, lifelong path of loving and learning about the natural environment or result in a messy divorce and a cheap sailboat for sale. Take your pick. Personally, I am very grateful to Owen, who has contributed so much to the Australasian Fishes project and fish identification, and I am slightly grateful to my divorced friends who, not only provided me with a good apocryphal story, but may have prevented me from having to quickly sell a large boat after a falling out. The dream of cruising is still intact.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Publicado el 08 de abril de 2024 a las 11:01 PM por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de abril de 2024

Member profile - Craig Lewis

The project is fortunate to have people who live in extremely “fish rich” environments. For example, the waters and islands around Coffs Harbour, NSW are home to many diverse tropical as well as temperate fishes. Many of these fortunate project participants have turned their attention to investigating the diverse marine life at their door for iNaturalist, developing skills in both photography and fish identification to extend their contributions to citizen science.
In this Bio Blurb, we ask a series of questions to one such project contributor, Craig Lewis, who is in position 14 on the project Observations Leader Board. He’s known in the project as @divercraig. Craig has been with the project since 2019 and has contributed 4,667 observations to iNaturalist. Of those 3,124 have been for Australasian Fishes. His observations cover 426 different fish species, clear evidence he lives in a fish rich area.
One of the great strengths of Australasian Fishes is the willingness and ability of the more experienced members to pass along tips and advice to the less experienced members. This is often mentioned in the project’s Bio Blurbs. In this edition, Craig is willing to offer his advice and experience in the pursuit of citizen science and underwater fish photography.
1. What were the origins of your interest in nature and fish?
I have been interested in nature and wildlife since I was very young, probably influenced by my parents who had an interest in wildlife. For a while I toyed with the idea of a career in marine biology, but it did not eventuate. Once I met my better half in Sydney in the 1980’s we were busy with raising our two sons and careers in inland parts of New South Wales. It wasn’t until we moved to the coast that I became interested in diving. Someone lent me some dive gear which I tried in Coffs Harbour Marina, and I was hooked. Years later, I am more passionate about diving and conservation in the oceans than when I started, and I now enjoy self-reliant diving, as well as diving with my regular dive buddy who also is an underwater photographer.
2. How often do you go diving? Is it all SCUBA?
I like to get out diving off the coast of Coffs Harbour every couple of weeks. We are spoilt for diving off Coffs Harbour as the Solitary Islands Marine Park extends along this part of the coast, with the majority of our diving occurring at offshore islands in the park. Coffs Harbour is not a shore dive location, and most diving is done around the islands or bommies out to sea. I also regularly dive Nelson Bay and Southwest Rocks and have been fortunate enough to also go overseas for numerous dive trips.
When diving I am always on SCUBA and never dive without my camera. Some time ago I became involved with two underwater research groups which made me more interested in underwater photography. The two groups I am involved with are Reef Life Survey (RLS) and the Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group (SURG). Through my work with these groups, I have been fortunate enough to meet some talented and learned experts in marine fields, as the National Marine Science Centre is also based in Coffs Harbour. It has been a real pleasure, and a learning experience, being able to talk to marine experts in fish, molluscs and invertebrates.
3. Could you tell us a little about your camera gear, what are you using now?
My current underwater camera is an Olympus OM1. I use an AOI housing and ports. Lighting is via two SUPE D-Pro strobes. I also have a Go-Pro mounted on my housing. I regularly use four lenses depending on the subjects we want to photograph; an Olympus 7-14mm Zuiko Pro, Olympus 12-40mm Zuiko Pro, Olympus 60mm macro and have recently bought an Olympus 90mm macro lens.
My Olympus camera uses a cropped sensor, so it is advantageous with reach and the size of subjects in frame but said to be limited with dynamic range. Compared to other camera systems, I believe the colour coming out of Olympus cameras is superior. Another advantage of the Olympus gear is that the OM1 body is smaller than some full-frame camera bodies, and the lenses are considerably smaller and lighter. This is a benefit when travelling with underwater camera gear overseas, and also when diving, as I can get into tighter areas that larger camera systems cannot. My camera rig is lighter than some full-frame set-ups which is also beneficial when diving as it requires less effort to dive with, which can help air consumption underwater.
For editing my photos, I use Adobe Lightroom and Topaz Denoise, but try to minimise editing through better practices when taking photos. Initially I had no experience with this software but have found it to be a rewarding experience, although it does take some time to develop a workflow you are happy with.
When considering underwater photography, I would recommend divers start with a basic set-up at first and then progress to more serious set-ups once you learn the basics and if you aren’t put off. A good place to start is second-hand set-ups and if diving, you will generally need some form of lighting. This could be a strong torch but will usually involve having one or two strobes.
Like diving itself, diving with a camera is not for everybody, and to some extent requires different diving methods in that you normally aren’t content with just cruising around watching the underwater life go by. As a photographer you want to be able to capture the beauty you see, and sometimes may spend most of the dive trying to photograph a particular subject and are more focused on a particular dive plan. To be able to develop your photography takes patience, good buoyancy skills and some failures. Underwater camera set-ups can be bulky underwater, are not cheap and can be rendered useless if you have a major flooding event.
4. Could you talk a little about why you were attracted to iNat?
Initially I was introduced to iNat by our local fish expert; Ian Shaw, @ralfmagee, in our discussions about uncommon fish species. I have a natural curiosity about wildlife, a desire to learn and to be able to identify flora and fauna, so iNat is ideal for that, especially when you’re unsure of something. I joined the site and from there became part of the Australasian Fishes Project. I believe this Project is a valuable tool for data collection, which can ultimately be used to protect our marine life and ecosystems.
I generally upload images to iNat every few weeks. I am a photographer who will take plenty of images in the field, which is easy to do with today’s digital cameras. I enjoy taking photos, but I also enjoy the processing, uploading and identification of subjects through iNat. I really enjoy having my observations verified by the peer review process.
The Australasian Fishes Project is a great learning instrument for users, but it is also a valuable resource for citizen science. It has taught me to be more observant and that I can have an impact through my participation.
5. What advice would you give them, or words of encouragement would you offer our less experienced project participants?
The great thing about citizen science is its potential through the sheer number of participants to be able to record data and contribute to a greater understanding of our environment. This will ultimately allow it to be better sustainably managed. It’s amazing that something as simple as a photo can change our way of thinking for a particular species in that it may not have been recorded in that area before or it might be a new species, or it might show particular behaviour not seen previously.
Apart from assisting data collection and observations, citizen science also benefits the people taking part. You become more aware of species and learn a great deal about your subjects. You also have the chance to find something really unusual, which can be verified on iNat.
You can’t adequately protect something without knowledge of it, and unfortunately there are not enough scientists as there are citizens willing to assist.
The project extends its thanks to Craig, not only for his numerous observations, but also for his willingness to share his insight and passion for marine fish with the Australasian Fishes community.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Publicado el 04 de abril de 2024 a las 01:01 AM por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de marzo de 2024

Male Leafy Seadragon with parasite gives birth

Jens Sommer-Knudsen, @jenssommer01, took this wonderful photo in January 2024.
Janine Baker, @marinejanine, manages the Dragon Search South Australia project. She stated, "This is such a special photo, because it shows a newly hatched baby seadragon, on top of the algae-covered egg cups. Very rare to see a hatchling captured in the same image as the father."
The adult seadragon was named 'Xiaolong' by diver Kerry Neil. Xiaolong means 'Little Dragon'. In her own words Kerry is a "passionate marine scientist working within industry to ensure sustainable development of coastal infrastructure."
Jens provided us with the following information. "A dive buddy from URG NSW and I had travelled to South Australia with the main aim of seeing and photographing Leafy Seadragons. Peter Corrigan from Sea Dragon Dive Lodge was kind enough to take us for a dive at Rapid Bay Jetty to help us find some; the photo in question is of a leafy that he showed us just next to the old jetty. We saw a number of leafies during the dive as well as more on a subsequent dive. We observed Xiaolong towards the end of the dive and while the egg mass is obvious, I must admit that I didn't notice the babies and the parasitic isopod (See another journal post about parasitic isopods) until I looked closer at the photos after the dive."
Thank you Jens for uploading this terrific observation.
P.S. For all you movie trivia buffs, American martial artist and actor Bruce Lee's Chinese name was 李小龍 (Li Xiaolong).
Publicado el 23 de marzo de 2024 a las 07:34 AM por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de marzo de 2024

Member profile - Susan Prior

It is usual with these Bio Blurbs to highlight a project participant who has contributed significantly to the project. This Bio Blurb, featuring Susan Prior, @susanprior, who is listed at No 18 on the project Observer Leader Board with 2,356 observations is certain one such participant. She’s a strong supporter of iNaturalist with 3,643 observations recorded.
Some Bio Blurbs also feature Australian locations, where project participants would find the natural environment both interesting and unusual, often full of exotic marine life. This Bio Blurb is one of those as well, as Susan lives at a place most dream about visiting, Norfolk Island. A place rich in both environmental and historical contexts.
Finally, Susan is a skilled, professional writer, so there is very little I could add to her Bio Blurb, as it is a rich and rewarding write-up of her interest in nature and her love for the island. The following are her own words.
“If I was to give you a quick list of what I am, this would be it: a science communicator, an interpretation researcher, content developer, writer, editor, project manager, community engagement practitioner, publisher, storyteller, and environmental and coral reef advocate. And I am about to embark on a PhD, studying Norfolk Island’s marine environment. I am also a mum to two adopted daughters, a grandma to one grandson and a granddaughter who is due very soon.
I was born in the UK, and emigrated to Australia with my then husband 40 years ago, in 1984. I’ve loved being in the water since I was a child, so it was natural for me to take up the opportunity to go scuba diving and ocean swimming in Australia. We moved as a family to Norfolk Island in the late 1990s, for a period of almost five years. I then returned to the island to live permanently in 2018.
In the 90s, I’d squeeze my daily swims around part-time work and being a mum. I’d swim out to the reef, often with a small child – or two – hanging onto my back so they could peer into the depths and see the amazing wonders there as well. I recall pointing out moray eels, cheeky smoky pullers and colourful wrasse.
Fast forward twenty years, I returned as an empty nester with more time. Working as a freelancer gave me the flexibility to resume my swims but when I got in the water, I was immediately struck by the changes I thought I was seeing – less fish, both in variety and numbers, and diseased and algae-covered corals. I didn’t return to diving, though. On Norfolk, we are lucky enough to be able to access the reef by wading in off the beach. All my photos have been taken while snorkeling, which I normally try and time to around low tide. As I only use a small camera and no additional lighting or other equipment, low tide conditions mean I can get closer to the subject and stay still enough to get a reasonable shot.
I had no evidence to support my hunch that the reef was struggling and when I searched for resources about Norfolk Island’s reef, I could find very little. Norfolk Island was almost like a research frontier – yet to be really discovered. I decided I had to do something. In January 2020, I drew a line in the sand and began taking photographs. But the trouble was, I didn’t have a clue what I was photographing. I had zero knowledge, none whatsoever, of fish or corals. Heck, I even confused a flowerpot coral with an anemone! I would Google, for example, ‘black and white fish, horizontal stripes, yellow tail fin’ and then trawl through the photos until I found something that looked vaguely similar. That led to me discovering iNaturalist and it grew from there.
Norfolk Island’s reef has long been overlooked, overshadowed by the stunning beauty and intriguing history of the island above water. Yet, Norfolk Island’s lagoons are unique and I wanted to raise awareness of them. Not only does the island feature one of the most southerly coral reefs in the world, but it is uniquely surrounded by an Australian Marine Park up to the high tide mark, while directly abutting the World Heritage Australian Convict Property of Kingston. This is relevant in that this history has contributed to many of the detrimental changes we see on the reef today.
As many freelancers will relate, I was booked for a six-week job that never eventuated, so with my growing catalogue of images, I decided to use the time to build a website and blog. It’s by no means perfect, but it is a start. On there, and with the iNaturalist window always open to help me ID species, I catalogued every kind of fish – as well as corals, anemones, nudibranchs, turtles and much more – that I’d seen in the last four years while doing my ‘lap’ swimming. This website is updated regularly as I get better images of different species or write another blog post.
In summer 2020, as I was just getting going recording the reef, Norfolk Island experienced a severe drought. It broke with devastating consequences for our marine environment. Since then, I’ve used the website and my Norfolk ISLAND TIME social media pages to raise awareness and to pressure (nicely) the various levels of government to help us tackle our water quality issues. In those four years, there have been some small improvements to the catchment, research undertaken and reports tendered, but there is still much to do if we are to fix the problem properly and build a resilient reef – resilient enough to withstand the other impacts that are coming at it, such as climate change. Time is marching on, and I fear we will lose the reef as we know and experience it today before we achieve any serious improvements to the island’s wastewater management.
In this journey, iNaturalist and Australian Fishes have proved to be an amazing resource, but I think the thing that has struck me the most throughout this whole, very steep, learning curve, is the enthusiasm and helpfulness of other fish and coral enthusiasts, both amateur and academic. So many people have kindly helped to correct my aberrant IDs and offered advice and supportive comments. Even better, I can’t quite describe the thrill of being the first person to identify a species in an area. I think I am up to eleven now. Silly, I know. Childish, possibly. But it’s a great buzz.
As a citizen scientist, I have more than 100,000 images of Norfolk Island’s reef and its inhabitants: four years of information, observations and evidence. I keep everything, and I also keep different versions of the best photos. This means I have the right file size and type ready to go for any particular platform, be it my website, the book I am writing, iNaturalist.org records, Facebook or anything else I need. And keeping everything (and filing them in a logical way) means I can go back and compare images of the same coral bommie, for example, taken in 2020 to ones taken in 2024. I believe this resource is and will continue to be invaluable in helping to protect Norfolk Island’s reef. It is my advocacy tool. We may forget, but photographs don’t.
I have to thank Malcolm Francis, @malcolm_francis, who is based in New Zealand and who maintains a comprehensive fish species database for Norfolk Island, the Kermadecs and Lord Howe. He has been a wealth of wisdom and information. I’d also like thank and acknowledge two other very significant people on this journey: coral researchers Associate Professor Tracy Ainsworth and Associate Professor Bill Leggat. It is because of them that I have now, at 64-years-old, decided to embark on a PhD to try and fill in some of those research gaps”
I certainly want to pay Susan a visit and buy her a coffee, on the island of course. For those interested in learning more about her work or the unique natural environment found on Norfolk Island, I encourage you to examine her website, blog and Facebook page.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Publicado el 13 de marzo de 2024 a las 05:51 AM por markmcg markmcg | 7 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de marzo de 2024

The Australasian Fishes project has a new look

You may have noticed that the Australasian Fishes project looks different.
We've converted from a traditional project to a collection project. Why did we do this? The primary reason is that we were going backwards. At the time of conversion, we had a stockpile of over 11,000 suitable observations that needed to be added manually. Despite having a team of people adding observations, the situation was unmanageable.
Now when you add your observation, it is automatically uploaded to the Australasian Fishes project, assuming it passes the project rules.
So what does this mean to you? The project still has the same functionality but when you upload your new observations you don't need to choose to add them to the project. They will go in automatically.
We're going through a testing phase at the moment. Please let me know if you have any problems.
Thank you to Scott Loarie, @loarie, for his help making this change happen.
Publicado el 06 de marzo de 2024 a las 10:29 AM por markmcg markmcg | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario