Pipe fish and filmy ferns top new species list for Kermadecs expeditionDate: 19 May 2011
At the halfway mark of New Zealand’s largest scientific expedition ever to explore the inshore coastal waters of the Kermadecs the new species finds are nudging double figures.
Auckland Museum marine curator Dr Tom Trnski says he believes two of the species collected on the expedition to date are probably new to science while a handful of species are brand new records for New Zealand.
The public have been able to follow the expedition’s progress through a daily blog http://kermadec.aucklandmuseum.com
“We have two species that I’m pretty confident are new to science – a little left-eye flounder and a pipe fish.
“We suspect the flounder doesn’t grow very big as the largest one we have collected is just 10 centimetres long, but it’s a pretty wee thing.
“Probably the most exciting find is the pipe fish – again it’s small, just 10 centimetres long, and a white body with striking orange spots. Pipe fish are related to sea horses, and are really just like a sea horse that has been straightened out.”
The new species records for New Zealand include a shark, a zebra lionfish, a tropical banded eel, a blackspot sergeant and a tropical goatfish. Dr Trnski cautions final confirmation of these species records won’t be made until after the expedition returns in 10 days.
New species finds are also taking place on dry land for the 13-strong team of scientists which includes experts from the Department of Conservation, Te Papa, NIWA and Australian Museum.
Department of Conservation botanist Dr Peter de Lange has found three species of filmy ferns that are new records for the Kermadecs.
Marine invertebrate specialists Dr Mandy Reid and Dr Stephen Keable from the Australian Museum expect to find new species in amongst the great diversity of creatures they have collected but say it might take many months for the material to be sent to experts around the world to be identified.
Entomologist Warren Chinn from the Department of Conservation says he faces the same tantalising wait for the moths, bugs and flies he has collected ashore to be identified.
The expedition has been focusing its attention around Raoul Island, and
the small islands nearby, at the northern end of the Kermadecs.
The expedition will now move south to Macauley Island, and over the next
eight days the expedition will carry out surveys around the four southern islands in the island chain.
New Zealand’s subtropical Kermadec Islands group lie 1000km north east of the North Island.
Notes for editors
More information, including daily blog posts, is available from http://kermadec.aucklandmuseum.com
New fish records for New Zealand
Fish species new to science (unconfirmed)
IMAGE CAPTION: Without a name: a pipefish found by the Kermadecs expedition team could be a new record for science but until it’s official it has been nicknamed the “orange-spot pipefish”.
MORE IMAGERY, AUDIO AND VIDEO FILES FROM THE KERMADECS EXPEDITION ARE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST