Monthly Fishbits- May 2016


Anchovies hunted by Trevally in Moofushi Kandu, Maldives. Credit: Bruno de Giusti

Anchovies hunted by Trevally in Moofushi Kandu, Maldives. Credit: Bruno de Giusti

Sink up to your gills in our May Fishbits! Fish with legs (long ones!), comparing yourself to a shark, and a World Oceans Day event.


Ever heard of the Tripod Fish? This fish has long bony fins that extend up to one metre from its underside, so the fish can sit, unmoving, off the sea bed and catch its prey. An article on them in Australian Geographic also has a video so you can check out what legs on a fish look like!

Tripod Fish. Credit: Bahamas Deep-Sea Coral Expedition Science Party, NOAA-OER.

Tripod Fish. Credit: Bahamas Deep-Sea Coral Expedition Science Party, NOAA-OER.

Did you know fish feel more complicated emotions than humans? Probably not as that’s unlikely to be true… but some scientists have found two 119 million year old fossilised hearts in specimens of the extinct bony fish Rhacolepis buccalis, which have more complex structures than hearts of modern vertebrates. Thanks to this fish its now clear that fossilisation of cardiac tissue is possible, despite the difficulty of finding soft tissue fossils, which means we can study the evolution of the heart pretty accurately! This particular find also provides data on a key stage of transition between heart structures, and techniques for studying cardiac development in a whole range of species. You can read an interesting article about these findings in Cosmos Magazine.

Also keep an eye out this month for more from the Fish Thinkers Kids! They will be providing some of their insights on Fish biology and updates on the progress of their fish tank.



While we are talking fish weird fish with ‘legs’, take a look at the Red Gurnard, a fairly common species off the SE coast of Australia (though living in deepish water most people don’t ever see them).  While its legs aren’t quite as long as Evie’s mincing Tripod Fish above, they do walk around on them quite effectively and…they have wings…and laser beams for eyes*. And to top it off we have taken plenty of footage of them ourselves (see an example below). So all things considered  I think my fish wins— but you can be the judge of that. (* this bit may be an exaggeration).



Compare your size to various sharks…worth a look but maybe not just before a dive 😉.               ht: Duane Byrnes

Skip and move along now if quibbles about academic writing isn’t your thing.

“Academics, PhDers and researchers are highly intelligent and conscientious people. Yet they none the less repeatedly commit the same simple and easily avoidable mistakes in presenting ‘ attention points’ — that is, any exhibit that stands out or attracts readers’ focus in their text, especially tables, graphs, charts, flow charts, graphics, diagrams, example boxes, case study boxes, and so on”. 

I have never thought about a lot of the points in this post at write4researchs blog post: “Designing ‘attention points’ in academic work”.Take a look at the full article for a much more eloquent outline then I can give. But for example: one of the pretty simple points makes sense— Why do we list graphs and tables in separate sequences in scientific papers? The reader then has to jump back and forth looking at “Figure 16 while next considering Table 9”, this is annoying and reduces readability. I suspect when I hand in my next draft section with all graphics,tables and figures listed in the same sequence instead like suggested ( e.g. Exhibit 1, 2, 3 etc)  that I will be told I should change it to the standard conventional format…why? because that is how it is done boy!



Think you know what species of fish you’re ordering from your local takeaway shop? Well maybe it’s time to think again. Incorrect labelling of flake is reported to be widespread and recently a whistle-blower indicated that a certain takeaway shop chain was selling imported Basa fillets as Dory. It really is time for better seafood labelling in Australia!

Last month I helped organise the 10th retro surf comp in Wollongong! It was such an epic day with good waves and even better vibes. We also ran a beach clean-up during the event with help from the comp organisers, Beach Clean Ups Illawarra and Clean Coast Collective so we could leave the beach a bit cleaner than when we arrived. Our talented friends James Lidsey and Alessandro Pezz captured the day perfectly in a short vid that you can watch below. If you want to get involved in clean-ups in the Illawarra follow this link.




Finally, if you want to hear Lachlan talk about his (and Matt’s) current work with a multidisciplinary team looking looking at managing  sharks for conservation and public safety, he is speaking at a free event for World Oceans Day, called ‘Surfing, Sharks, Ships and the Sea’ on the 8th of June. This event is part of the UOW Global Challenges Program which is designed to encourage and develop creative and community-engaged research that will help drive social, economic and cultural change in our region. The Sustaining Coastal Marine Zones section draws on multidisciplinary expertise to explore how we can govern species that are both threatened and potentially threatening to humans.

At this event you can hear from experts in the field of sharks and conservation, and find out more about current research. Grab a ticket and come check it out!


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