Going out with a bang. The last dive on the Kermadec Biodiversity expedition was at L’Esperance Rock, the southern-most of the Kermadec islands. And it was a very spectacular and very productive dive, which left the fish team buzzing with excitement.
The highlight was a fish called Priacanthus macracanthus, or the brownspot bigeye, which is another new family record for New Zealand. Tom says it’s only ever been recorded from the top of the east coast of Australia and north of there, so these fish are a long way from home!
Bigeyes, as their name suggests, have large eyes, which they use to feed at night – during the day they hide in crevices, so they often go unnoticed by divers. In this photo you can see another smaller group of fishes that are also known as bigeyes in New Zealand, and they too have huge eyes.
Clinton was filming during the last dive, and he managed to get some footage of the brownspot bigeye. It’s the plain dark fish that is usually near the centre of frame. The black fish with two prominent white dots are two-spot demoiselles, and towards the end of the clip the group of fish is joined by a bigger white fish which is an adult Kermadec scalyfin (Parma kermadecensis, which featured in blog 42, in the story about fish having different colour patterns at different stages of their life). You also get glimpses of divers collecting fish.
Check out Clinton’s footage of the brownspot bigeye cruising through the water (he’s the plain dark fish near the centre of the frame):
But wait – there’s more! Also on the last dive the team collected a juvenile surgeonfish. Although they don’t yet know exactly which species it is, it is almost certainly a new species record for New Zealand. Adult surgeonfish have been seen in New Zealand before, but not collected, so this may well be the first specimen as well.