Monthly Fishbits- July 2016

Matt doing some recent BRUV studies

Matt doing some recent BRUV studies

This month; There is lots of underwater video sampling happening at fish thinkers, guest blogger Zoologist Jones drops in (check out Stefs blog here !), nudi naming, sci comm wins and a new open access tracking paper…

Zoologist Jones: 

I’m usually bit a of a land lubber, especially when it comes to zoology. But I am flat(head)tered to be asked to contribute to the Monthly fish bits. Anyway, enough terrible fish puns.

My research looks at captive breeding programmes and how they can assist with animal conservation. It might surprise you but I do spend a fair bit of time reading about fish, particularly salmon. Salmon farming is a practice that I see can run parallel to captive breeding, although the outcomes may be slightly different (we want to eat the salmon), the same issues are faced in salmon farming and captivity. How to maintain natural behaviours (such as the salmon run or evading predators) and how to reduce changes to morphology. Indeed, salmon are losing their hearing in farms and this may mean once released the salmon can’t hear predators coming. You can read more here



It has been a busy month of fieldwork for me with baited remote underwater video surveys underway for our anchoring project. As always it has been great to review the footage to see the habitats and animals living on our deep reefs. One thing I’ve noticed is a crazy amount of cephalopods turning up to the videos – checkout this footage of a Giant Cuttlefish  I posted on Instagram. This observation reminds me of a paper published recently noting a global proliferation of Cephalopods in the last 5 decades – see the figure below! The authors conclude that these patterns are due to human activities changing the world’s oceans and the ability of cephalopods to quickly adapt to such changes. Read more about Doubleday et al., 2016 study here.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 1.14.25 pm

While we are on the topic of cephalopods, do you know that in Australia around 80% of the squid and octopus we eat is caught from overseas! Why is this an issue? Well some of these fisheries are using damaging practices such as bottom trawling and have poor management. This leads me to another article I read recently on the difficulties of eating local seafood in Australia.


Active tracking screen shot

For the most part (unlike on coral and temperate reefs or for charismatic pelagic species) we don’t really know much about the movement patterns of fish that live on marine sand. As soft sediment habitats dominate the ocean, that is a problem for a number of reasons.   I’ve got a new tracking paper out with researchers from NSW DPI and UoW that is hopefully the tip of the iceberg in filling this knowledge gap. I am also super happy that it is open access (so you don’t need to pay or have uni library access to read it)!



I have also published the data set here  and the data is pre-loaded into Zoatrack  here  (Just click on tracks and analysis) so you can play around with it straight onto maps of Jervis Bay and see how the Bluespotted flathead moved over the 60 day study. Its  has a CC licence too so the data can be reused by other researchers.

I’ll give a proper run down on the paper/data in a blog post soon so keep an eye out for that!

While I am tooting my own horn: Evie and I managed to take out both the Honours and Postgrad categories of the Australian Society for Fish Biology Awards. Thanks again to those that voted. You can see our entries here. We both get a custom painting from Stick Figure Fish painting and I am having trouble deciding on what to get so i’ve started a poll haha



Everybody loves a nudibranch, and right now there’s a competition where you can name a newly discovered species of nudibranch! The competition is run through Radio National and the Western Australian Museum. The name should reflect and embody one or more characteristic/s of the species OR reflect the spirit of scientific endeavour and as you might predict there are a lot of ‘Sluggy mcSlugface’ and ‘Nudi mcNudibranch face’ options floating around already. I have a feeling they won’t cut it though.

(Lac edit: congrats again to Evie for winning the ASFB sci comm honours section this month with her entry – Moral Panics and Techno-Fixes: The social shaping of shark deterrent technologies)

Catch you all next month for more fish bits 🙂

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