Forget houses on the moon, our scientists are using 3D printing to build better fish tags. We use tags to track the movements of fish including Tuna, Marlin and some sharks.
The tags are inserted beneath the skin of the fish, or clipped through a fin, just like a body piercing. Using our shiny new 3D printing machine, we are able to feed in designs and print them overnight.
And just like a human body piercing, the tags are made of biocompatible titanium – the metal of choice for dental and medical implants – because living tissues do not reject it.
Why would we print fish tags? The main reasons is because it allows us to rapidly develop new designs.
“Our designers can provide turnaround within a week, from new design idea to a testable prototype, using our 3D printing facility,’ said John Barnes, who leads CSIRO titanium technologies.
“When our marine science colleagues asked us to help build a better fish tag, we were able to send them new prototypes before their next trip to sea.”
Had the scientists been using conventionally made machined tags, manufacturing and delivery of the new tags would have required weeks, before the new designs could be tested.
While we’re doing this with fish tags, 3D printing offers the same advantages to a manufacturer who wants to test and optimise a new product design.
John talks about how 3D printing speeds up the re-design process in the video, below.
So if CSIRO’s new designs for fish tags take off, it’s only a matter of time before fishes world-wide sport Australian-designed piercings for the sake of science. You can view tracks of selected marine animals tagged by CSIRO and partner agencies on the CSIRO Ocean Tracks website.
Access this video transcript here.
Lanternfish are generally the most abundant group of fishes caught during trawls of the mid-water (mesopelagic) and deep (bathypelagic) regions of the ocean.
They are some of the most widely distributed, populous, and diverse of all vertebrates. Therefore, lanternfish play an important ecological role as prey for larger organisms.
Kapala lanternfish are usually between 35mm – 67 mm in length and are found in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
The image above was posted on our Facebook page last week for users to comment on what the fish was thinking. You can read the great responses we got here.
These images were taken for a photographic guide produced by CSIRO scientists to identify the mid-water fish of the southern Tasman Sea. Here are some more great images from the guide.
Mid-water fishes are notoriously difficult to identify and this guide was developed to help researchers, students, commercial fishers and fisheries observers to identify fishes, encourage standardisation in data collection and foster data sharing. The guide shows both striking images of specimens collected in a good condition while also showing normal specimen quality collected during trawls.
Find out more about the Kapala Lanternfish and other mid-water fish of the southern Tasman Sea by checking out the guide!
OK, this is not the most pleasant FFT picture we have had but it is interesting.
One of our regular FFT readers (and the winner of the inagural FFT identifcation quiz) Phillip Clark from Focus Fisheries in WA sent the pictures in. Phillip is a member of a fishing club and another member found the specimen on the flats of the Swan River in Perth.
Apparently there was a bit of debate among other members of the club as to what exactly had been found. There was an even split between those who thought it was an eel and those who had no idea. Finding the fish in the Swan River threw a few off them of track.
While we are not encouraging all and sundry to send in their pictures of fish they have found, I thought this one was strange enough to send on to our fish ID experts in Hobart.
John Pogonoski who works in fish taxonomy at CSIRO came up with the answer – “It’s Woodward’s Moray Eel, Gymnothorax woodwardi – described by McCulloch in 1912 – a common species in south-western WA (from about Cape Leeuwin north to about Shark Bay, inshore to at least 250m). I saw plenty of preserved specimens in the Western Australian Museum last year, so must be reasonably common.”
There you have it.
We’ve got a special FFT for you today- a feature article by Rich Hillary on the Southern Bluefin Tuna and why we should be concerned that the current biomass is between 3−8% of the tuna’s unfished level.
Laying the track for a road to recovery for the iconic southern bluefin tuna
Southern Bluefin Tuna are majestic, temperate ocean dwellers, roaming across the oceans of the southern hemisphere, from the tropics to the sub-Antarctic. They grow to two metres and 200 kilograms, mature between eight and 20 years of age, and can live to 40.
Southern Bluefin eggs are spawned in warm waters off Java and north-western Australia. As larvae and small juveniles they ride the Leeuwin Current down the coast of Western Australia to spend their first summer in south-western WA and the Great Australian Bight. They continue to summer in the Bight, wintering in either the south-east Indian Ocean or Tasman Sea until about five. Then they stop returning to the Bight. Instead they move between feeding grounds, areas of high productivity spread between New Zealand and South Africa. Later as mature adults they join the spawning migration to the tropics below Indonesia.
Southern Bluefin are highly prized on the Japanese sashimi market, where the overwhelming majority of the global catch is sold. They have been heavily fished since the 1950s by high-seas long-line vessels and purse seine. They have also been grown in pens in Port Lincoln South Australia since the 1990s.
The current best scientific advice is that mature biomass is between 3−8% of the tuna’s unfished level. This is well below accepted national and international sustainable levels. Due to its low spawning biomass and, until recently, high levels of fishing mortality Southern Bluefin are classified as conservation dependent under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and Critically Endangered by the IUCN.
Overfishing is the greatest recognised threat to Southern Bluefin. With low numbers of spawning adults, natural variation means there is a high risk of further declines. Several years of low juvenile survival, even with little or no change in fishing, can result in rapid decline. There is no buffer of long-lived adults that exists when populations are higher.
Management of Southern Bluefin is via international agreements on quotas, which can often lead to decision paralysis and status quo management. This management system can be slow to respond to problem signals such as low numbers, leaving the population ill-equipped to deal with the vagaries of juvenile survival.
In 2006, the revelation of significant under-reporting of catches from the long-line vessels further increased the uncertainty in stock status and the risk of future tuna declines. In response, the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) substantially reduced the global quota (in 2006 and 2009). An international body of major fishing nations, the CCSBT renewed its commitment to developing a formal rebuilding plan for the Southern Bluefin. Monitoring of the population has shown that the initial quota reductions have stopped the overfishing.
Member scientists of CCSBT instigated a process of developing a robust rebuilding strategy in the early 2000s. This strategy, called a Management Procedure, differs to more common (and problematic) ad hoc quotas. The specific objectives to be achieved are agreed beforehand.
Quota setting decisions are largely automatic – key data is fed into the procedure and a total allowable catch is produced. No negotiation is permitted and no lengthy stock assessment process is required.
The procedure is then extensively tested through investigation of a wide range of “what if” scenarios. Stakeholders can be satisfied the procedure will rebuild stock under a wide range of potential future conditions.
CSIRO scientists were heavily engaged with the international team that developed the Management Procedure, adopted and used to set the global quota by CCSBT in 2012. This is the first such outcome for an international tuna fishery.
An important benefit of the Management Procedure approach is that it gives scientists more time to explore the remaining uncertainties in our understanding of the Southern Bluefin. CSIRO scientists have recently completed electronic tagging and genetic abundance estimation projects to better understand the migration patterns and breeding capacity of the stock.
It is expected that, even with the rebuilding strategy in place, recovery of the tuna will take a number of years. Southern Bluefin are long-lived and mature late, so the implementation of the Management Procedure is the start of a process, not the conclusion of one.
The next challenges for Southern Bluefin are for members of the CCSBT to maintain the accurate reporting of data from the fishery, to ensure that recommendations coming from the Management Procedure are adhered to, and for the scientists to continue integrating the latest research into the management framework so that future decisions are made on the best available scientific advice.
Rich Hillary received funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Council (FRDC).
Leaning toward a Banded Sweep but not really sure. Anyway, sweeps are grey, often with a tinge of blue, green, or sometimes brown. They both like to get together in schools and are found from the southern coast of New South Wales, around the south of the country and north to the central coast of Western Australia.
The Sea Sweep can grow to about 61cm in length (the one above is just a bit shy of that….) while the Banded Sweep is a bit smaller.
They are found on rocky reefs in coastal waters. Young sweeps hang out in small schools inshore, and the larger adults school in small groups in open waters, often in turbulent areas on coastal reefs to 25m deep.
There are not many things that can offer you a 15 metre circumference hug. If a giant squid was approaching you with long tentacles gangling about in the murky depths of the ocean, you probably wouldn’t want to be squeezed anywhere between them. If you were, your skin may look something like that of this sperm whale.
Other than this potential for enormous love bites or battle scars, there is still little known of these ‘monsters of the deep’. We don’t know their exact distribution in the Southern Ocean, but some giant squid have been captured by deep-sea trawl fishing off Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. We do know they can grown up to 15 metres (most of this length is tentacles), inhabit deep waters and have been captured in our RV Investigator animated Christmas card.
Have a wonderful holiday season.
Southern RockLobster: I know its not a fish but it is getting close to Christmas and a lot of people will be eating one of these in between slinging insults across the lunch table. Who knows? Maybe some small, retained facts from this post can calm the situation before the flaming brandy is tossed toward Uncle Phil from Newcastle.
They are a species of spiny lobster found throughout coastal waters of southern Australia and New Zealand including the Chatham Islands.
They resemble lobsters (look HERE for difference), but lack the large characteristic pincers on the first pair of walking legs. They are carnivorous and like to feed during the night. They live in and around reefs at depths ranging from 5m to 200m.
Adults are sexually mature at between seven and 11 years. Eggs develop on females, which carry between 100,000 and 500,000 eggs which are fertilised and held below the tail on hairs on the female’s abdomen. The eggs develop there for up to five months. The eggs then metamorphose into larva which leave the female and are free swimming plankton which migrate towards the surface.
Not sure if there will be FFT next week – will see how I am going before heading off for small holiday. Anyway, thanks for reading FFT and have a good Christmas.
(Disclaimer – These are the words of others and I will not be held responsible for any offense.)
Old Wife: It has a deep and compressed body and concave forehead. The name – old wife – refers to the sound caused by it grinding its teeth when caught (or the Old Man comes home from the pub smelling of grog and cheap perfume).
It has the same features as other butterfly fish but the old wife is easily distinguished by its silver-and-black, vertical zebra-striped coloration, and by its two large dorsal fins. The dorsal fins have bony, knife-like spines. These have no obvious venom groove nor gland but the spines are widely considered to inflict a painful venom.
The fish grows up to 50 cm long and is found in the temperate waters around Australia.
It is one of the earliest fish described in Australian. In 1790, John White in his Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales originally named it the long-spined chaetodon.
In 1836, closely related fossils were found in Europe. The well preserved fossils show the basic body plan and even the zebra pattern of colouring have not changed significantly over the past 50 million years.
Orange Roughy: Can’t believe it has taken FFT over a year to come to this important fish of the sea. Mind you, I still use a typewriter and a Teledex.
Anyway, they are also know as the slimehead or deep sea perch and, as the last name suggests, are found in deep waters between 180m and about 1800m. They are found around Australia and New Zealand, in the Western Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and in the Eastern Pacific off Chile.
The orange roughy is slow growing and long lived – usually about 145 year but apparently there is one in the Australian National Fish Collection in Hobart that is about 160 years old.
The orange roughy grows to about 75cm and a maximum weight of 7kg.
Because it is so slow growing and late to mature, the species is extremely susceptible to overfishing and stocks especially those off New Zealand and Australia collapsed in the 1980s and there is debate if they have recovered.
The information below is from Wikipedia and I think is another reason (to go along with the fact the fish have had a bloody hard time over the years) to exclude them from your diet.
Due to its longevity, the Orange Roughy accumulates large amounts of mercury in its tissues, having a range of 0.30 – 0.86 ppm compared with an average mercury level of 0.086 ppm for other edible fish. Based on average consumption and the recommendations of a National Marine Fisheries Service study, in 1976, the FDA set the maximum safe mercury level for fish at 1 ppm. Regular consumption of Orange Roughy can have adverse effects on health.
Common Galaxias: Found from Chile to Eastern Australia, Tasmania, West Australia and New Caledonia. It is a small narrow fish growing to about 120mm but can “reach” 180mm. While Whitebait is the most common name, other names include cowfish, jollytail, common jollytail, eel gudgeon, lananga, native trout, pulangi, slippery tarki and spotted minnow.
Unless they are trapped in a landlocked lake, the fish spawn downstream in rivers and creeks in the vegetation on banks of the estuary regions during a spring tide in autumn. (Note: when the range – between high and low – of a tide is at its maximum it is know as a spring tide. This has nothing to do with the season.) The eggs stay on the banks out of the water until the next spring tide when they hatch and are swept out to sea. For about six months the larvae live in the sea and develop into juvenile fish, often referred to as whitebait.
When they are about 30 mm in length and 3–4 mm in width they swim up a river on the incoming tide until they reach a suitable habitat where they develop into the adult form.
They only live for about a year and usually die after spawning.
Freshwater Sawfish: Apart from the visually obvious, the Freshwater Sawfish is a really interesting FFT subject. It is actually a ray, having five pairs of gill-openings on the ventral surface of the head wh8ich is a feature of rays. It grows up to about 7 m in length and can live up to over 40 years of age.
In Australia it is listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The Freshwater Sawfish can “potentially” occur in all large rivers of northern Australia from the Fitzroy River, Western Australia, to the western side of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. It is mainly found in the main channels of large rivers.
It spends its first three–four years in freshwater growing to about half its adult size then moves to coastal and offshore waters up to 25m deep and up to 400km offshore.
They prefer the mud bottoms of river mouths and estuaries, but can be found occasionally well upstream. They are usually found in turbid channels of large rivers over soft mud bottoms.
The sawfish can’t see very well as they have undeveloped eyes due to their muddy habitat. The saw is the main sensory device. The saw is used to stun fish, such as mullet, and for digging out molluscs and small crustaceans from the mud. The saw is covered with pores which allow the sawfish to detect movement of prey hiding in the mud. The “teeth” of the saw are not real teeth, but modified tooth-like structures called denticles.
Black Stingray: This is one cool looking ray. You can see where filmmakers and the like get their inspiration for things like the Batmobile, spaceships and aliens. The rays are not aggressive to humans but the stinging spine can give a painful injury.
It is one of the largest species of stingrays in Australia and grows to 1.8m wide, up to 4m long and weighs in at over 200kg. It usually has one stinging spine.
It is found in coastal and offshore waters off south-eastern Africa, Australia and New Zealand to a depth of about 440m. In Australia it is found from northern NSW around the southern coast to the central coast of WA.
Rays are closely related to sharks, but they have flattened bodies, enlarged pectoral fins, and gill slits on their ventral (belly) surfaces.
Like other rays, it is aplacental viviparous, which means the developing embryos are sustained to term by uterine milk produced by the mother.
Here is the publisher’s blurb:
The waters around Australia are home to the greatest diversity of sharks and rays on Earth. Spookfish, numbfish, stingarees, fiddler rays and cookie-cutter sharks are just some of the 322 shark, ray and chimaerid species illustrated in the latest edition of Sharks and Rays of Australia.
Australia’s sharks, rays and chimaerids — collectively known as Chondrichthyans — are just as intriguing as their names suggest. Their eclectic colours, shapes and patterns reflect environments ranging from remote estuaries to ocean depths. Their new descriptions, and their striking portraits by watercolourist Roger Swainston, will help to guide the identification and conservation of these diverse species.
The first edition of Sharks and Rays of Australia was produced in 1994. Since then, 29 species have been discovered in Australian seas and more than 100 species have been named and formally described. As well as documenting these advances, the new edition includes updated species classifications and descriptions, distribution maps, line illustrations by Georgina Davis, family keys and outlines of Chondrichthyan biology and interactions with humans.
The book catalogues a rich seam of Australia’s marine biodiversity, providing an indispensible compendium for scientists and a baseline reference for the fishing industry.
Sharks and Rays of Australia is an essential reference for professional and recreational fishermen, divers, naturalists, students, fish and conservation biologists, and anyone interested in sharks and rays.
By Carrie Bengston
This picture does not do this fish justice- in real life, male Eastern Blue Gropers are the same vibrant blue as our logo. They are almost a metre long so if one swims past you, you know about it.
A big, blue fish with bulging, bright yellow eyes, peg-like teeth and plump lips sounds like something out of Dr Seuss’s ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red, Blue Fish’. These fish, however, are real and they’re marine celebrities.
First, some of them are local identities with names like ‘Bluey from Clovelly’ or ‘Monty from Julian Rocks’.
They’re friendly and curious and are known to swim up to snorkelers and divers.
It has been illegal to spearfish Eastern Blue Gropers in NSW since 1969 but, if a male blue groper dies, a female groper changes sex to become a male. Females aren’t actually blue but an olive-green colour, and smaller.
Their cousins across the Nullabor swim off the WA coast and can grow to an even bigger 1.6m.
Western Blue Gropers (Achoerodus gouldii) are famous too. Australian author and marine advocate Tim Winton wrote the novel ‘Blueback‘ about a blue groper that befriends a boy and teaches him about the importance of looking after our environment. Dr Seuss would agree with that.
Boxer Snipe Eel: Growing up to 1.4m long, this eel lives down to depths of 2000m and eats crustaceans. While they are quite long, they weigh only 80-400g. They are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters.
Their jaws appear similar to the beak of the bird called the snipe – hence their name.
They are oviparous which means they lay their eggs before fertilisation, and the male lays its sperm on top of the newly laid eggs in a process called external fertilisation.
The juveniles are flat and transparent and remain in the larval form and near the surface (upper 200m) for several months before descending.
They are grey or brown and have small sharp teeth.
Bigtooth Twinspot Flounder: My boss called up this morning and asked how I picked the Friday Fish. There ain’t a lot of science involved. I do a search through the scienceimage website run by CSIRO Publishing and look for cool fish.
As I was talking to her I came across this one which I think has been misnamed. For a start I can count four spots (or two twin spots), but more startling is the spots look like those smiley faces people use in text messages or on T-shirts worn by glow stick waving ravers.
It is also known as Four Twinspot Flounder, Four Twin-spot Flounder, Twinspot Flounder and Twin-spot Flounder.
Anyway, I couldn’t find a lot out about this fish except that it lives in northern waters around Australia – Cape York etc.
It is from the Paralichthyidae family of flounders and they lie on the sea bed on their right side. Both eyes are on the left side of the head.
They are found in temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans.