Author Archives: Matt Rees

Rules of attraction: enticing pelagic fish to underwater cameras

One aspect of my PhD is to understand a little bit more about the ecology of pelagic fishes, specifically what habitats they prefer in coastal waters. But before I could do this I first had to determine the best way to sample these fishes and this is what todays post is on. Continue reading

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Not all doom and gloom

Last week on a bit of a wild whim I travelled across the Tasman to catch up with a mate and fly fish a backcountry New Zealand river.

Notorious for bad weather, we of course copped wind, rain and cold temps during our 4 day hike in the mountains. I think we saw the sun twice, once on the walk in and once on the way out.

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Fishing Journal now online

It’s probably no real surprise that both Lac and I do a fair bit of fishing (some say too much). In the past we’ve documented what we’ve been catching on Instagram, but are often left with pictures from our fishing trips which end up clogging our hard drives. So this year we have created a “Fishing Journal” page on the blog to share some thoughts and pictures from our fishing adventures. Continue reading

Dragging the chain – does anchoring by large ships impact our marine life?

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining a multidisciplinary team of researchers, supported by UOW’s Global Challenges program, to investigate the potential impact of large ships anchoring on our marine life and seafloor habitats.

ship 2

As an island nation, we are heavily dependent on shipping, with large ships transporting 99% of our trade by volume. Prior to entering our ports these large vessels may anchor in deep water, often for many days, waiting for their turn to exchange cargo.

Now when I say ‘large’ I mean freakin huge (see pic below). These ships are between 200-300 metres long and to anchor they require an anchor chain up to 250 metres long where each individual chain link can weigh up to 200 kilograms! Continue reading

Special underwater video session – ASFB conference

I’m very excited to be co-convening a special session on the use of video technology to better understand fish ecology and behaviour at the Australian Society of Fish Biology conference 2015!! See flyer below for details. Registration and abstract submission ARE NOW OPEN!!

Also check out ASFB’s Facebook page here for regular updates.

ASFB custom

Positive response of Giant Mud Crabs to protected areas

The giant mud crab (Scylla serrata) is a beast of a crustacean, capable of reaching 3kg in weight but often caught around the 0.5-1kg range. In Australia, they are distributed in sheltered waters from southern NSW, up through QLD, across the NT and over to Broome, WA.

Giant mud crabs have a short life cycle (3-4 years) and are reproductive machines. Females can carry between 2 – 5 million eggs and migrate up to 95km offshore to release their eggs. The young crabs hatch as tiny planktonic larvae, where they can remain in this stage for several weeks at the mercy of ocean currents. This aspect of their biology gives giant mud crabs substantial capabilities for dispersal.

A giant mud crab (Scylla serrata) chillin next to some mangroves on Mali Island. Photo by Jürgen Freund. Check out more of his amazing wildlife photos here and on facebook at Jurgen Freund Photography – Australia.

Their prized meat and high numbers within estuaries make them a highly targeted recreationally and commercially harvested species. In NSW, annual commercial landings are approximately 100-120t and the annual recreational catch is estimated between 30-60t. The main method of capture by both commercial and recreational fishers are crab pots, however rec fishers also use hoop nets or dillies.

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