Diario del proyecto Australasian Fishes

Archivos de diario de junio 2024

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 junio 1, 2024 06:24 MAÑANA por markmcg markmcg | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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 junio 6, 2024 01:48 MAÑANA por markmcg markmcg | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de junio de 2024

Randall's Snapper - a new record for the Cocos Keeling Islands

Until recently, Randall's Snapper, Randallichthys filamentosus, was known from scattered localities across the east Indian and central-western Pacific Oceans. In Australia, it's recorded from off Esperance in southern Western Australia, off Scott Reef in northwest Western Australia, and off Lord Howe Island. View distribution on the Australian Faunal Directory species page.
Thanks to the keen efforts of Shakirin Keegan, we can now add the Cocos Keeling Islands to the distribution of this species.
Shakirin, a Fisheries Compliance Officer at the Cocos Marine Care/Shire of the Cocos Keeling Islands, shared the exciting discovery:
"During a recent patrol, I encountered an incoming recreational fishing boat and proceeded with my routine catch inspection. To my surprise, the fisher on board pointed out a species of fish that he had never seen before. Upon closer examination, I immediately measured the fish using my ruler, placed it on a suitable surface, and took a photograph for documentation purposes."
"Intrigued by the unfamiliar species, I conducted a quick search on Google Images and was able to successfully identify the fish and later posted the observation on iNaturalist."
Randall's Snapper can be easily recognized by its distinct shape and coloration. It is rosy red with a yellow tinge, and the outer edges of the spinous dorsal and pelvic fins are black.
This new record is significant for several reasons. It not only expands the known range of Randall's Snapper but also highlights the importance of local fisheries and marine officers in contributing to marine biodiversity records. Such discoveries are crucial for understanding the distribution patterns of marine species and for informing conservation efforts.
A sincere thank you to Shakirin for his dedication and effort in documenting this new record.
Publicado el junio 24, 2024 03:26 MAÑANA por markmcg markmcg | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario