Collaboration results in the discovery of a new fish record

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A new fish species has been recorded in Territory waters.

With the help of the Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) Fisheries Division, a fish species has been recorded in Territory waters for the first time.

Accompanied by Dr Michael Hammer, Curator of Fishes at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) on a recent trip to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Fisheries staff engaged commercial mud crabbers on compliance programs and supervised the installation of new recreational fishing signage. Local Sea and Land Rangers were taught aquatic biosecurity and the importance of ongoing recreational fishing education while the Lianthawirriyarra Sea Rangers were trained on monitoring and deploying baited remote underwater videos (BRUVs).

During a field trip to meet ranger groups at Borroloola and Ngukurr, Dr Hammer shared his in-depth knowledge of local fish, on how identifying fish helps build knowledge of local marine biodiversity and how to spot potential pests. As part of the process, a short survey was undertaken on the McArthur River which revealed the surprise result of an unusual small yellow-finned native glassfish. Using taxonomic keys and the MAGNT reference collection the team was able to confirm the first record of the Elongate Glassfish (Ambassis elongata) from the Territory and obtain the first life images.

Glassfish are a fascinating group, which earn their name by often having transparent bodies to the point ribs and other internal organs can be seen through the body. Previously seven species in the glassfish family were known for the Territory, with the new addition one in a steady stream of discoveries in the contributing to knowledge and management of the local fish fauna.

“It was funny but not surprising up here to be collecting some fish for an identification workshop, only to find something that didn’t fit the mould and required further investigation! All the previous field guides only show a picture of a preserved specimen, so it was also good to put a face to the name so to speak, and now be able to share this more widely” said Dr Hammer.

DPIR Executive Director Fisheries Division, Ian Curnow added “DPIR continuously works to strengthening our stakeholder relationships and this trip demonstrates how collaboration can improve local fish knowledge.”

Ambassis elongatus

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