Diario del proyecto Australasian Fishes

Archivos de diario de octubre 2022

12 de octubre de 2022

Member profile - Dr Adam Smith

Growing up in the midst of the early space program, it was clear that all my friends wanted to be astronauts. Perhaps it was because Astronauts had nicknames like Buzz and Gus, and most of us kids had nicknames too. Although I’d never heard of an astronaut called “Bubba”. Personally, I never wanted to be an astronaut, perhaps like many in the Australasian Fishes project, preferring to be Jacques Cousteau instead. This desire to join the crew of the Calypso, did not, however, translate to any logical steps such as learning French or moving to Monaco. However, I never missed an episode of his television specials.
What made those shows so inspiring was more than fish pictures, which were amazing enough. The Cousteau production company created a mixture of travel, ocean diving as well as showcasing the emerging technology used in underwater research and television production. There was always a new invention or gadget to see. What attracted me to wish I was Jacques’s long lost, slight lazy and near-sighted, English-speaking nephew, was the variety of the experiences his shows offered. The rich mixture of exotic locations, innovative toys, research questions and, of course, fish filmed while diving in pristine locations. Who needed astronauts?
Reading about this Bio Blurb’s subject, Dr Adam Smith, reminds me of the excitement and sense of exploration I felt when watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau so many years ago and how varied of an experience it truly was. Adam describes himself as “A thalassophile who feels an inescapable need to be and live by the sea”. To ensure he has his daily dose of vitamin sea he became a marine scientist, naturalist and sportsperson with a fascination for the ocean, fish and their connection to people.
Adam grew up in Sydney as a keen swimmer, surfer, recreational rock fisher, spearfisher, freediver and trained as a SCUBA diver in 1982. He studied marine biology at the University of New South Wales and completed a BSc (Hons) and PhD. His early career was with NSW Fisheries Research Institute, The Ecology Lab and NSW Fisheries. In 1999 he moved to Townsville, Queensland as a Director with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, where he served for over 14 years in the development of strategic plans, policies and applied management procedures to ensure the reef remains a sustainable resource for Australia. In 2015 he founded Reef Ecologic which is a social enterprise and consultancy providing strategic advice, marine research and capacity building. It is a vast storehouse of coral reef knowledge and experience, with Adam as the CEO. He was an Associate Professor at James Cook University and remains in an adjunct role with the institution. He has 101 publications on topics including coral reefs, sharks, seagrass and human interactions. In his spare time, of which I doubt he has much, Adam is a keen ocean ski paddler and competes in long-distance events.
When asked about his first engagement with the ocean, he tells us, “I started snorkeling as a six-year-old in the rockpool at Bronte Beach. I was given my first speargun for XMAS at age 12. At university I joined the UNSW Dive Club, underwater hockey club and Sans Souci Dolphins Spearfishing club and enjoyed trips throughout NSW and annual camping trips to the Great Barrier Reef. I was inspired by Jacque Cousteau’s underwater adventures in his books and films. Locally I was inspired by Ron and Valerie Taylor and Ben Cropp who were spearfishers, filmmakers and authors.”
Moving to a tropical Australian city added fuel to his already water-based passions. He says, “I dive for recreation and work as often as I can, and the Great Barrier Reef and nearshore islands and headlands are amazing and diverse locations. To date I have logged almost 4000 SCUBA dives and there have been many more snorkel dives, so I have probably spent 10,000 days of my life on or underwater. I recently returned from a conference in the Maldives, and I was snorkeling every day. I prefer snorkeling to SCUBA because of the freedom and the longer time I can spend in the water. I still enjoy catching and eating a tasty Coral Trout or Spanish Mackerel and will also share the occasional photo of a dead fish on iNaturalist that I have captured by line or spearfishing.”
Adam is also an experienced underwater photographer, and like some of us has owned a wide range of underwater cameras. He says, “I have owned and treasured several underwater cameras from the Nikonos II with film to Coolpix (that was limited to 10m depth) to my current Canon G7X in a Fantasea FG7XII housing. I prefer simple, low volume cameras without lights as I take the majority of my photos while snorkeling.”
Adam’s contribution to Australasian Fishes has been impressive. He has a long history of participating in citizen science projects, however, he has been with Australasian Fishes for only a year and is already ranked as number 18, with 1,579 observations for the project. He’s contributed over 2,622 observations for iNaturalist, encompassing 1,004 different species. I personally have benefited from his IDs, especially for tropical varieties from the Great Barrier Reef. He says, “It is hard to believe but I have only been a member of iNaturalist for just over one year. My introduction to the app was because I photographed a fish I could not identify. I shared the photo on social media, emailed several fish scientists and also posted to iNaturalist. The fish was identified as a Largescale Grunter, Terapon theraps and I wanted to know more about local species of reef fish. I have made over 2450 observations including photographs of over 500 species of fish and 20 species of sharks and rays. Typically, I will take 50 to 150 photos when I do a reef trip and then select about half of these to upload to iNaturalist. My top three observations of fish by number are Spotted Coral Grouper, Great White Shark (after an amazing three-day charter at Neptune Islands) and Chinese Demoiselle (one of the most common species around local islands and reefs). I also assist with IDs of fish in Australia and internationally with 500 so far. I have also learned a lot about coral and other marine life while making observations.”
Adam is a rather unique participant of our project as both a citizen scientist as well as a marine scientist. There are great strengths and opportunities in being both. He is active in several citizen science groups such as Reef Life Survey, Reefcheck Australia and also adds observations to the Eye on the Reef databases. Like a true citizen/professional scientist, and evidenced by his numerous contributions to our project, he shares his knowledge of the marine environment to empower many other ocean enthusiasts including his family, local school, staff and local skindiving club which recently held a spearfishing event and observed over 300 sharks from 10 species. He stated, "We are analyzing the data of the shark sightings as well as fish caught and preyed upon by sharks." He is in the process of writing another scientific paper on this topic and also producing a video to share these observations.
To promote the cause of marine citizen science Adam has also set up a number of iNaturalist projects to focus citizen science on local attractions such as the Coral Greenhouse, Yongala shipwreck, Orpheus Island Research Station, Magnetic Island and also set up ReefBlitz 2022 event for the GBRWHA to celebrate World Oceans Day\Week. In addition to establishing iNaturalist projects, Adam is deeply engaged in community work which also fosters wider understanding and appreciation for the undersea world. He is a Board member of the Australian Underwater Federation, Recfish Australia and the Museum of Underwater Art. The last one, is a unique project, which is already gaining global attention, mixing art and the underwater environment.
Asking Adam for his appraisal of iNaturalist, our project and the importance of citizen science, he tells us, "My advice is that iNaturalist is the biggest citizen science app in the world with over 110 million observations of over 390,000 species and you can learn so much from this huge dataset, dedicated people and also contribute your unique experience. So, load the app and start with an observation. It is very cool when you receive suggested identifications, and the expert online community provides advice on species. However, iNaturalist comes with a warning as it can be addictive. Finally, I do try and create and share unique opportunities that may be of interest to fellow iNaturalists. In October 2023 I am leading and facilitating a citizen science expedition to the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. It will be a 14 -day journey with the small cruise ship company Coral Expeditions and it may be of interest to some readers who are passionate about iNaturaist and citizen science and wish to meet like-minded enthusiasts and broaden their knowledge.”
It turns out, after all those years, I was completely wrong about the ambitions of my youth. I have met Jacque Cousteau and been aboard the Calypso, but have now decided, rather than being Jacque’s nephew, I would rather be Adam Smith’s uncle. His world and interests include sport, photography, professional science, environmentalism, resource management, citizen science and even underwater art.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Publicado el octubre 12, 2022 07:09 MAÑANA por markmcg markmcg | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de octubre de 2022

Marine Biodiversity in Southern Sydney Harbour Project

Welcome to our new project, sponsored by Blue World (http://www.blueworld.net.au/about/) with a prize in the namesake of Valerie Taylor, the iconic Sydney-based ocean conservationist (if you haven’t already done so, DO check out her documentary https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11226258/). The upcoming Marine Biodiversity of Southern Sydney Harbour project will be led by me, Dr Joseph DiBattista, humble Curator of Fishes at the Australian Museum (https://australian.museum/get-involved/staff-profiles/joseph-dibattista/).
The primary aim of this community-focused project is to increase marine biodiversity observations in southern Sydney Harbour at Parsley Bay, Camp Cove (Watsons Bay), and Shark Beach (Nielsen Park). Feel free to join this project as a member if you are an existing participant of iNaturalist. See link to the iNaturalist Collection Project here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/marine-biodiversity-of-southern-sydney-harbour
Despite the importance of these three recreational zones in southern Sydney Harbour, there is a paucity of baseline data regarding their resident marine fauna. Indeed, based on historical records documented on Atlas of Living of Australia (https://www.ala.org.au/), there are approximately 500 fish records from all three sites combined across a 150-year period (1868- 2021), compared to approximately 40,000 records within the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve just outside of Sydney Harbour since declaring it a No Take Aquatic Reserve in 2002. At least that was the case when I surveyed the databases last year, and that’s just accounting for the fishes. We really do need your help to balance the record books!
Despite a paucity of biological survey data at these three recreational zones, we suspect that they are important refuges for threatened species in southern Sydney Harbour, including fishes in the Syngnathidae family (seahorses, pipefishes, pipehorses, and seadragons), the protected Eastern Blue Groper (Achoerodus viridis) and Eastern Blue Devil (Paraplesiops bleekeri), and range-restricted species, such as the Red-fingered Anglerfish (Porophryne erythrodactylus). As one obvious example, an endangered seahorse species White’s Seahorse (Hippocampus whitei)that has been the focus of recent habitat recovery initiatives in Sydney Harbour (i.e., Seahorse Hotels) is a known resident of these sites, predominantly found on man-made swimming nets such as those deployed at Shark Beach and Parsley Bay. The nets at Parsley Bay are regularly monitored by the local council to enable best practices for their maintenance and better understand their role in supporting seahorse populations.
Natural history fish collections from the Australian Museum, largely restricted to the mid-1970’s, not only support these locations as refuges for threatened species, but additionally as an “end point” for newly settled tropical fishes that continue to extend their native range poleward as our oceans warm. And again, that just covers the fish! There is so much more to discover when photographing the spineless animals (think nudibranchs, echinoderms, and endangered species such as the Cauliflower Soft Coral Dendronephthya australis) and plant-based organisms (think of our disappearing Posidonia seagrass meadows).
Your new snorkel or SCUBA observations captured between October 15, 2022 and April 15, 2023 uploaded to iNaturalist will be used to ground truth and complement monthly environmental DNA (eDNA) surveys at each of the three sites with our research partner Dr Shaun Wilkinson in New Zealand, founder of Wilderlab (https://www.wilderlab.co.nz/), and habitat restoration with Dr David Harasti (NSW DPI - https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/about-us/research-development/staff/staff-profiles/david-harasti), respectively. Future journal posts will discuss the powers of eDNA to regularly monitor microbes and invasive species at the base of the food web to socio-economically important megafauna. Indeed, I will be sharing preliminary results on eDNA detections at these sites as they are processed. Similarly, more about assessing the suitability of these sites for habitat restoration using seahorse hotels will be published in future journal posts.
The bottom line is that we need your help!!! Us scientists cannot survey these sites at the rate that keen and informed citizens like yourselves do, nor do we notice or document everything that is out there. We’d love to work WITH you. This includes new observations and old ones. For instance, I am sure that there will be a treasure trove of biodiversity data already contained on your underwater cameras, external hard drives, and laptop computers, particularly if you are regulars at any of these sites. We are imploring you to raid the vaults and make these images publicly available on iNaturalist.
Why do we need you help with this project?
We are inviting all snorkelers and divers with underwater cameras to help increase our knowledge of the flora and fauna at these three sites. We at the Australian Museum simply do not have enough staff or resources to regularly monitor these sites with in-water surveys, and so we hope to borrow your expert eye and enthusiasm for underwater photography instead.
How can you participate?
For citizen science sightings to become accepted as records, encounters with an individual organism at a particular time and location are uploaded as images to iNaturalist, which are identified and/or validated by the community. Each observation can include multiple images of the same organism, but to increase the value of your observations, please indicate the spatial accuracy and include additional comments if applicable. Notably, observations of rare species may be used to assist environmental review and conservation planning efforts.
Given that ours is a “Collection Project”, any photo of any organism that falls within the bounding boxes I created for each site or similarly assigned to the Places “Parsley Bay, Vaucluse, NSW”, “Camp Cove, Watsons Bay, NSW” (be careful, there are a few similarly named Places for this one), or “Shark Beach, Vaucluse, NSW” (more about the delay on surveys at this site below) will be captured in our Project and be eligible for the contests (see below).
As always, please be respectful and kind to the sensitive marine environment. We want the flora and fauna that you document to last forever.
Keep an eye out for organised Bioblitz events at Parsley Bay in Vaucluse later in the year so that we can meet you in person! This site has recently come under scrutiny as part of a planned mega-construction project, and so recording all plants and animals present here is particularly critical to saving our precious recreational zone.
What are the contest ground rules?
Small prizes will be awarded to top users at each of the three sites in the categories below on or after April 15, 2023. This includes gift vouchers from local dive providers (PRODIVE Alexandria, Dive Centre Bondi, Sydney Dive Charters) or restaurants (Clove Lane in Randwick).
Archival Photos: eligibility based on photos taken prior to June 1, 2022. This category is particularly well suited to avid snorkelers, SCUBA divers, and underwater photographers who regularly visit one or all three of the sites in southern Sydney Harbour.
*New Photo Submissions: eligibility based on photos taken between October 15, 2022 and April 15, 2023. This category is well suited to anyone with a keen eye and underwater camera!
*Note that the contest for “New Photo Submissions” at Shark Beach will be deferred to only start when it reopens to the public in May 2023 due to lack of access.
Do you have what it takes to win photo observation of the month?
Each month, starting in November 2022, we will select the most "faved" observation to explore and highlight. That participant will receive a voucher to purchase swag at the Australian Museum gift shop. You could be a winner if you submit your discoveries!
Top five reasons to join iNaturalist
1) It’s free.
2) Provides a platform for photo storage and can serve as a virtual dive log.
3) You can choose to copyright protect your photo submissions (or not).
4) State of the art artificial intelligence and experts in the online community can help with identification.
5) You can contribute in a significant way to the scientific aims in this project.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member Joey DiBattista.
Publicado el octubre 19, 2022 03:31 MAÑANA por markmcg markmcg | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de octubre de 2022

More on Mangrove Whiprays

Keen readers of the Australasian Fishes Project blog will recall a previous journal post about sound production in Mangrove Whiprays, Himantura granulata. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/australasian-fishes/journal/14192-rays-gettin-some-rays
A second journal entry posted over four years later reported that a paper on sound production in wild stingrays had been published. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/australasian-fishes/journal/68418-australasian-fishes-project-acknowledged-in-noisy-stingray-paper
I've written this short post to let readers know that Javier has uploaded his excellent photos of Mangrove Whiprays to his website. I encourage you to have a look. https://javierdelgadoesteban.com/mangrove-whiprays
Publicado el octubre 26, 2022 04:46 MAÑANA por markmcg markmcg | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de octubre de 2022

Have you seen this fish?

I am Ana Gaisiner and I'm a Field Associate at the California Academy of Sciences under the direction of Dr. Alison Gould. Part of my project involves diving in search of Siphonfish, genus Siphamia. They are a group of tiny cardinalfish that exhibit bioluminescence though symbiosis with light producing bacteria.
Mark suggested I enlist some help from the fabulous Australasian Fishes Project divers to record any sightings of Siphonfish. Some species such as the Urchin Cardinalfish, S. tubifer can be found hiding in the spines of tropical sea urchins for protection from predators. The Wood's Siphonfish, S. cephalotes, inhabit temperate kelp beds of coastal Australia, while the Pinkbreasted Siphonfish, S. rosiegaster (image above) has a more tropical range and can be found around piers and under other structures.
So if you happen across these little wonders (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?taxon_id=92086) please snap a photo or two and post them on iNaturalist. Any details about the habitat, depth, time of day, the number of individuals etc. would be greatly appreciated too!
For more information you can contact me via iNaturalist @anagaisiner or via email, agaisiner@gmail.com.
If you would like to learn more about our work check out our recent publications at https://alisongould40.com/publications/
Publicado el octubre 27, 2022 02:16 MAÑANA por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario