A new species for the Kermadec Islands

Today we had an amazing dive at North Meyer Island – we encountered lush meadows of brown and red alga with the occasional dash of florescent orange. The volume and extent of algae we observed today has not previously been noted at the Kermadec Islands and may be a short seasonal treat, offering a safe haven to juvenile fishes. Within the wavering algae, we found a kaleidoscope of colours including many hard and soft corals. But there were other things lurking too. Galapagos sharks moved amongst the researchers stalking fishes from below while we were busy recording the unique biodiversity of this nirvana underworld. And, even an angry but charismatic juvenile moray eel popped out at Sam while winding in his transect line.

Galapagos sharks swam amongst the divers.

Our biodiversity surveys have revealed a diverse assemblage of tropical, subtropical, and temperate fishes and marine invertebrates within the community of the Kermadec Islands. To help understand how these critters may be able to co-exist we thought we would try and look into how they interact. We deployed a pair of GoPro cameras to record the movements of sub-tropical and tropical urchins and the tropical crown of thorns starfish. We will see what becomes of our observations in coming days …

The cigar wrasse photographed at Macauley Island, a first record for the Kermadec Islands. Photo © Charles Bedford.

Last but not least, our excellent chef, Braveheart crew member, and scientist – Charlie Bedford – recorded a new species for the Kermadec Islands, the cigar wrasse (Cheilio inermis). Charlie had taken a photo of the unusual elongate wrasse whilst checking the anchor at Macauley Island. Closer inspection, Tom’s expertise and a satellite phone call confirmed that this was the first time the species had been recorded at the Kermadec Islands. We had a toast to Charlie and his eager eye this evening!

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2 Responses to “A new species for the Kermadec Islands”

  1. Clinton Duffy

    Hi Tom et al.,

    Your comments about lush algal meadows are interesting. This was also the situation when I was up there in Nov 2004. Those meadows were mainly of Asparagopsis (a red) and short browns (Dictyotales). The browns had lots of juvenile orange wrasse in them but I don’t recall much in the Asparagopsis.

    No algal meadows seen in May 2011 or August 2012 despite diving in many of the same places.

    All the best for the rest of the trip,
    Clinton

    Reply

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