Steinhart Team Breeds Rare Bargibanti Pygmy Seahorse For The First Time

17 Jun, 2014

An adult Bargibant's Pygmy Seahorse, behind the scenes at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences - image courtesy Richard Ross.

An adult Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse, behind the scenes at the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences – Image courtesy Richard Ross.

Matt Wandell and Richard Ross are two professional aquarists who need no introduction to serious marine aquarium audiences. This dynamic duo of public aquarists has the kind of job most all of us would gladly commit manslaughter to have, working for the Stienhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. Wandell and Ross get to work on the type of aquarium systems most of us can only dream of and certainly will never afford.  As if that wasn’t enough, they get to galavant around the globe on expeditions looking for new and interesting animals and husbandry challenges that many of us will never have the opportunity to tackle - like keeping and breedingHippocampus bargibanti, Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse. Can you smell, can you taste, the envy?

Three of Steinhart's key players behind this project - (left to right) Matt Wandell, Bart Sheperd, and Richard Ross, photographed in Manilla in 2011.

Three of Steinhart’s key players behind this project – (left to right) Matt Wandell, Bart Sheperd, and Richard Ross, photographed in Manilla in 2011.

The news that the Steinhart Aquarium has successfully bred and reared the smallest species of seahorse currently in captivity was released today in an online article by Nick Stockton for Wired Magazine. Stockton’s article tells the three-year back story behind this project (it’s quite humorous, we encourage you to read it), culminating in a world-wide first.

Apparently Wandell and Ross first had to prove their convince the Steinhart’s director, Bart Sheperd, that the ambitious project was feasible: before pushing forward into breeding attempts, they needed to successfully keep the seahorse’s host, a gorgonian species, Muricella paraplectana, that has proven difficult to sustain in captivity.

This sea fan is one of two known hosts for Bargibant’s Seahorse; wild photos and Fishbase records also document Muricella plectana as a host for the species. Interestingly, Fishbase suggests that “two color morphs [of H. bargibanti] are known: (a) pale grey or purple with pink or red tubercles (found on gorgonian coral Muricella plectana) and (b) yellow with orange tubercles (found on gorgonian coral Muricella paraplectana).”

Needless to say, Wandell and Ross succeeded with the gorgonian care and held Sheperd to his promise. During the 2014 Philippines Biodiversity Expedition, Wandell collected a single pair of H. bargibanti, on the night of May 18th, 2014, which arrived at the Steinhart Aquarium only 2 days later on May 20th. When asked why biologists only collected a single male/female pair, Ross replied, “We want to have the least impact on the natural environment as possible, especially for an experiment…We were thrilled just to have them alive in captivity.

Ross has been observing these fish like an annoying, micromanaging boss. Such extreme focus has already allows Ross to document behavior including courtship and mating. Check out this newly released footage of the daily, morning bonding ritual that occurs between the pair.

Female in front, male behind from Richard Ross on Vimeo.

Wandell and Ross’s new charges did a whole lot more than just live in captivity, they have already produced 2 broods of captive-bred offspring, with a third birth expected this weekend. Estimates suggest as many as 70 offspring are produced in each breeding cycle.

A plethora of day-old captive-born Hippocampus bargibanti - image courtesy Richard Ross.

A plethora of day-old captive-born Hippocampus bargibanti – image courtesy Richard Ross.

Details on larval rearing are understandably scarce at this time, but what can be revealed is that copepods provided by Algagen played an integral role in nourishing the pelagic offspring. Baby Brine shrimp, aka. Artemia nauplii, were also shown to be used as a larval feed.

A larval Bargibanti Seahorse, at 6 days post birth, feeding on a copepod.

A larval Bargibanti Seahorse, at 6 days post birth, feeding on a copepod.

Yes, while we might have hoped that this species was similar in reproduction to the “breed-like-rabbits” Dwarf Seahorse, Hippocampus zosterae, there are already some noteworthy differences between the two species. H. zosterae are one of the few seahorses known to feature direct-development of their offspring; in seahorse breeder jargon, they “hitch” immediately upon birth. Wandell and Ross  shared that the offspring of H. bargibanti don’t settle and assume a benthic lifestyle (start hitching) until 18 days post release.

Newly-settled 18 day old Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti - image courtesy Richard Ross

Newly-settled 18 day old Pygmy Seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti – image courtesy Richard Ross

One of the big questions, of course, is whether the color morphs are genetic or caused environmentally (One theory: a seahorse doesn’t know which gorgonian it’s going to settle out onto, so perhaps it changes post-settlement to match its host’s coloration). Perhaps Wandell and Ross will be doing more experimentation that could reveal an answer to this very intriguing question.

For those aquarists who’ve been pining for H. bargibanti, sadly this news doesn’t translate into instant availability for this species within the aquarium trade. We’ve followed up with another article that investigates exactly why you haven’t seen this pygmy seahorse available to date, and why you probably won’t see them anytime soon.

Little else has been written yet about the husbandry methods and breeding protocols for the species at this time. We look forward to this information being made available as this project progresses. CORAL Magazine will be publishing more about this, as the details of the story are revealed by Wandell and Ross. Our hearty congratulations to the team at Steinhart for breaking down yet another captive-breeding barrier.

Image Credits

All images copyright Richard Ross, 2011 / 2014, published with permission.

About the author

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen

Matt Pedersen is a Sr. Editor and Associate Publisher with Reef2Rainforest Media, LLC, including AMAZONAS & CORAL Magazines. Matt has 32 years as an aquarist, has worked in most facets of the aquarium trade, is an active hobbyist and fish breeder (both marine and freshwater), and was recognized as the 2009 MASNA Aquarist of the Year.

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June 18, 2014 - 11:02 AM No Comments

Odontanthias fuscipinnis – Anthias Captive Rearing & Breeding Proof of Concept

14 Oct, 2013

First captive-reared Anthias by Reef Culture Technologies / Frank Baensch.  Photo courtesy Blue Reef Photography / Frank Baensch - used with permission.

First captive-reared anthias by Reef Culture Technologies / Frank Baensch. Photo courtesy Blue Reef Photography / Frank Baensch – used with permission.

By Matt Pedersen & Coral Staff

While spawning reports for various members of the iconic reef fish subfamily Anthiinae have been recorded in marine aquariums over the years, to date these beautiful shoaling species have resisted being raised successfully in captivity.

Now Frank Baensch has produced a rare and coveted deepwater species, Odontanthias fuscipinnis, the Yellow, Fuscipinnis or Hawaiian Deep Anthias, as captive-reared fish. In theory, this could make a hithertofore very expensive species a candidate for aquaculture and within the reach of more reef aquarists.

Pioneering marine fish breeder Frank Baensch of Reef Culture Technologies.

Pioneering marine fish breeder Frank Baensch of Reef Culture Technologies.

Baensch, of Reef Culture Technologies in Honolulu is, to date, best known in the aquarium world for his work producing scores of captive-bred marine angelfishes (Pomacanthidae) and his research rearing the Crosshatch Triggerfish (Xanthichthys mento). This may change with the recent successes from his newest initiative, the Hawaii Larval Fish Project (officially: The Hawaii Larval Fish (Culture + Imaging) Project).Frank-Baensch-300×300web

In late 2012, Baensch announced this change in direction on the RCT website, saying: “In the past, much of our research was conducted on culturing pygmy angelfishes (genus: Centropyge) in small, intensive rearing systems using copepods. We are now applying these rearing techniques to species of other marine fish families to determine their culture feasibility, as well as to learn more about their spawning biology in the wild and their early life history in captivity.

Utilizing eggs or larvae collected in the wild waters of Hawaii, Baensch seeks to apply rearing methodologies to see “what else can we raise.” This approach eliminates the need for maintaining and conditioning broodstock, instead focusing all attention on rearing efforts.

This is not unlike the bread-and-butter of the Rising Tide Conservation Initiative’s work, the main difference being that Rising Tide’s eggs are often sourced from third-party captive populations (such as large public aquariums), while Baensch has turned to the wild for his seed.

“What I’m trying to do is streamline one technique for everything,” says Baensch. “Or rather, figure out what works for the most number of species. The foods that I’m using for this project are the same I used for the Centropyge and the Crosshatch Triggerfish (except for Strombidium).”

CORAL, March/April 2012, with Frank Baensch's cover story on breeding the Crosshatch Triggerfish.

CORAL, March/April 2012, with Frank Baensch’s cover story on breeding the Crosshatch Triggerfish.

Just as is seen with Rising Tide, you never know what you’re going to succeed with, and in October 2013 Baensch revealed a big win with successful larval rearing reported for Odontanthias fuscipinnis, the deepwater Yellow Anthias endemic to Hawaii and Johnston Atoll, and a very expensive fish to obtain ordinarily.

Baensch collected eggs in December 2012, and these were subsequently hatched and reared using copepods in a mixed culture setting with other marine fish species. He reports a roughly 80-day development time from hatch to settlement—on par with many dwarf angelfish, although Baensch speculates that this pelagic phase could be shortened.

Wild Eggs & Wild ‘Pods

Baensch revealed some additional details of this success. “The Yellow Anthias were reared from wild-collected eggs using a mix of wild pods (Parvocalanus,OithonaBestiolina and Apocyclops) and cultured copepods (ParvocalanusBestiolina), but I’m quite sure this species could be reared on cultured pods alone so, yes, it would be a great one for landlocked hobbyists to work on.”

While folks are clamoring to obtain “captive-reared” Fuscipinnis Anthias, it’s not that simple. Baensch’a first collection of eggs in December 2012 produced only three larvae after the first 7 days of life. Only one made it to 130 days post-hatch, at 5 CM of length, at which point it was released as part of a restocking / settlement research project Baensch is involved with.

In a March 2013 run, three more larval Yellow Anthias were identified from wild eggs between 5-10 days post hatch. Two of these made it to 40 days, and were again released.

Ultimately, the only thing that prevents this from being classified by some as a truly captive-bred fish is that the spawning occurred in the wild; arguably, however everything else has been accomplished and Baensch can certainly be credited with pushing us right to the edge of the captive-bred cliff for an anthias species. We’ve had numerous hobbyists and public aquariums document captive spawnings of anthians, and now we have clinching proof of an anthias being reared from egg through settlement (and presumably on to marketable size) using methodologies within the reach of expert aquarists.

Sources
Reef Culture Technologies News
Baensch, Frank. 2009. Trials and Tribulations of Culturing the Crosshatch Triggerfish
.CORAL, March/April 2012, Vol. 9 No.2. pp 40-55. (Back issue orders.)

Image Credits: Frank Baensch / Blue Reef Photography

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October 23, 2013 - 9:21 AM No Comments

NEW CORAL SEA ANTHIAS - from the good folks at coral magazine

New Anthias Discovered in Coral Sea

03 Oct, 2013

New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias - a new anthias species discovered by divers in Quality Marine's exclusive New Caledonia supply chain.

New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias – a new, still undescribed, species discovered by collectors in Quality Marine’s New Caledonia Short Supply Chain.

Quality Marine Collector Brings Up New Deepwater Anthias

Images by Eli Fleishsauer / Quality Marine

A dazzling new species of anthias has been discovered by aquarium fish collectors working for Quality Marine in remote New Caledonia, and rare fish enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting its arrival in the aquarium trade in North America.

According to Eli Fleishauer of Los Angeles-based Quality Marine (QM), “When we first received these fish, we were unable to conclusively identify them as any of the known Anthias species, and we reached out to several renowned scientists for their opinion. Credit for first spotting the fish goes to legendary marine livestock collector Tony Hahacky. The first specimens were caught by Antoine Teitelbaum, who collects fish exclusively for  QM in New Caledonia, an archipelago of French islands in the Coral Sea, about 750 miles (1,200 km) east of Australia.

New Caledonia, an archipelago of French islands in the eastern Coral Sea. Click to enlarge.

New Caledonia, an archipelago of French islands in the eastern Coral Sea. Click to enlarge.

“Antoine and Tony reached out to a number of ichthyologists, and scientists at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu confirmed our suspicion that this is indeed a new species. It is in the process of being described and named for the scientific community.”

This is a deepwater species, found in large schools, the QM collectors have reported.

“Like other anthias, they are planktivores, primarily eating suspended zooplankton and other meaty foods in the currents,” says Eli. “Early population estimates show that schools are made up of half females and half males.

“Males are generally more brilliantly colored, and have a dorsal spine (3rd spine) that extends far beyond the dorsal fin.  As a new species, which is possibly endemic to that island chain, they have never been seen before in the marine aquarium trade.

“The fish has not yet been assigned a scientific name,” Eli continues. ” However, we have talked with Antoine about a common name, and he is using “New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias.”

“We think it is a fitting name for this gorgeous animal, and we are following suit.”

Headshot of the New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias - awaiting formal scientific description.

Headshot of the New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias – awaiting formal scientific description.

Captive Care

Eli says that the species may do very well in reef aquariums. “We are holding these fish in two large schools, in which we are seeing little to no aggressive behavior outside of the normal bossing that goes on between dominant males and females.  As a species, they seem to be less aggressive than many of the other Anthias this size.

“Because of our success in keeping larger groups, they will likely be held like this in the future, and should be held in at least small groups (pairs, harems, etc) in the store display and home aquariums.”

Quality Marine says that the new anthias  immediately took Nutramar OVA, which is composed of frozen prawn eggs at a diameter of about 1/16th of an inch (1.6 mm) . ”It took them settling in for a day or so before we got them to accept a wider variety of meaty foods,” says Eli.  ”We are feeding them Gamma Mysis, enriched brine, krill, chopped prawn and other finely diced meaty foods.”

Owing to the challenges, expense and risks of deep-water collecting, the New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias is not expected to be widely available and will likely command a premium price as the first imports reach the marketplace.

Another look at the new anthias dubbed "New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias" while it awaits formal description by Jack Randall

Another look at the new anthias dubbed “New Caledonia Sunrise Anthias” while it awaits formal description by Jack Randall

Short Supply Chain

Quality Marine has an ongoing initiative to promote Short Supply Chains (SSC) in the marine livestock trade. “These are something we are very proud of here at Quality Marine,” says Chris Buerner, QM president.  ”Basically it boils down to us supporting the most sustainably harvested and managed collection sites and sourcing animals from collector groups rather than middlemen wherever possible.”  The collector supplying these new Anthias works exclusively under contract for QM.

“This philosophy helps to reduce transit times to a matter of hours or days, rather than weeks,” Buerner explains.  ”Shorter supply chains and fewer middlemen eliminate inconsistent levels of care, reduce stress in animals, increase survivability and decrease pressure on marine habitats.

“In terms of our customers ordering from us, when they see our SSC terminology, they can be assured that the animals they are ordering come to us from our shortest supply chains, reaching the point of export from the point of collection within 24 hours.”

Read more about SSC here: http://www.qualitymarine.com/About/Short-Supply-Chain

Quality Marine
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Los Angeles, CA 90045

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SOURCE

From materials released by Quality Marine, 10/3/2013. All images by Eli Fleishauer Copyright © 2013 Quality Marine.

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October 7, 2013 - 11:05 AM No Comments

New walking shark discovered - from the good folks at Coral Magazine

New “Walking Shark” Species Discovered

11 Sep, 2013

Hemiscyllium halmahera, a new species of small bamboo shark discovered in eastern Indonesia. Image by Mark Erdmann/Conservation International.

Hemiscyllium halmahera, a new species of small bamboo shark discovered in the Maluku Islands of eastern Indonesia. Image by Mark Erdmann/Conservation International.

Jakarta, Indonesia – A highly charismatic species of walking shark has been discovered in the remote eastern Indonesian island of Halmahera. The epaulette (long tailed carpet) shark, Hemiscyllium halmahera, uses its fins to “walk” across the ocean floor in search of small fish and crustaceans. The discovery comes at a time when Indonesia is significantly ramping up its efforts to protect shark and ray species that are now considered vulnerable to extinction, including whale sharks and manta rays.

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelagic nation with a marine area of over 5.8 million km2 (including a 2.55 million km2 EEZ), and harbors a vast wealth of marine resources. Among these is an amazing diversity of marine life; besides hosting well over 75% of the world’s coral species, Indonesia also is home to at least 218 species of sharks and rays.

“This is the third walking shark species to be described from eastern Indonesia in the past six years, which highlights our tremendous shark and ray biodiversity,” said Fahmi, a shark expert at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. “We now know that six of the nine known walking shark species occur in Indonesian waters, and these animals are diver favorites with excellent potential to help grow our marine tourism industry.”

The shark was described in a recent paper in the Journal aqua, authored by Dr. Gerald R. Allen of Conservation International and colleagues Mark Erdmann and Christine Dudgeon. They report that the species reaches a maximum length of just 70 cm (28 cm). Bamboo sharks are among the few elasmobranchs suited to keeping in home aquariums because of their relative small size and bottom dwelling behaviors.

The new bamboo shark perching on a rock in a remote area of Indonesia in the heart of the Coral Triangle. The bamboo sharks have the curious ability to "walk" along the bottom on their pectoral and ventral fins. Image: Mark Erdmann/Conservation International

The new bamboo shark perching on a rock in a remote area of Indonesia in the heart of the Coral Triangle. The bamboo sharks have the curious ability to “walk” along the bottom on their pectoral and pelvic fins. Image: Mark Erdmann/Conservation International

Mark Erdmann CI’s senior advisor to the Indonesian Marine Program and regional coordinator for the Bird’s Head Seascape Program said, “After nearly three decades as the world’s largest exporter of dried shark fins and other shark and ray products, Indonesia is now focusing on the tremendous economic potential of its sharks and rays as living assets. In the last six months’ alone, two of the country’s top marine tourism destinations, Raja Ampat and West Manggarai (home of the famed Komodo National Park) have declared their waters as fully protected shark and ray sanctuaries. It is great to see our findings supporting the valuation and conservation of this natural capital for the long-term wellbeing of the nation.”

Dr. Mark Erdmann, part of the Conservation International team that discovered and described the new bamboo shark.

Dr. Mark Erdmann, part of the Conservation International team that discovered and described the new bamboo shark.

“This tremendous biodiversity of sharks and rays is a natural heritage that must be conserved for future generations,” said Dr. Sudirman Saad, the Director General of Coasts and Small Islands at the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, who confirmed the government’s commitment to manage these important marine assets in a sustainable manner.

He noted that the Ministry is currently developing regulations and management plans to ensure the conservation and viability of key threatened species of sharks and rays in Indonesian waters. “In addition to securing the long-term sustainability of our national fisheries, we have launched this initiative to prove Indonesia’s commitment to protect our marine biodiversity and ensure the long-term sustainable use of sharks and rays well into the future,” said Saad.

SOURCES

Allen GR et al. 2013. Hemiscyllium halmahera, a new species of Bamboo Shark (Hemiscylliidae) from Indonesia. aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, 19 (3): 123-136

Excerpt from materials released by Conservation International.  Images: Mark Erdmann/Conservation International.

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September 17, 2013 - 2:29 PM No Comments

Brittle Stars: White Wedding - From the good folks at Coral Magazine

Brittle Stars: White Wedding

28 Aug, 2013

Spawnign brittle stars scurrying to the surface.

Spawning brittle stars scurrying to the surface.

By Daniel Knop
Web Bonus Content from the September/October 2013 Issue of CORAL Magazine
Additional Bonus Brittle Star Articles

Spider-like, they emerged from all cracks and crevices. It looked almost like an alien invasion in a science fiction movie. Countless arms waved through the water, probed the environment, and attached themselves to rocks to pull themselves up. Each individual wanted to be first, to find the best place. The urge of a brittle star to climb—from the rock structure, up the aquarium glass, to the surface—is so powerful that some specimens came out of the water, standing on the bodies of their fellows. With almost blind zeal, half a hundred of these echinoderms assembled, as if following a secret command. However, it was not blind obedience or fear that drove them, but the irrepressible wish to reproduce: a brittle star wedding was imminent!

Brittle stars’ arms intertwined in a dense network.

Brittle stars’ arms intertwined in a dense network.

Unlike other invertebrates that mate and exchange their genetic material directly, free spawners must synchronize their germ cell release. Therefore, they need a trigger that sets in motion the complex reproductive process. For these brittle stars, often referred to as Ophiocoma pumila in the hobby, that trigger is a sudden change in the environment—in this case a partial water change. As soon as the fresh sea water had flowed into the aquarium and mixed with the old water, the first arms stretched out from under the rocks. Within moments the aquarium, which had shown no sign of a brittle star before the water change, was teeming with them. These animals normally hide during the day and come out at to scavenge at night, but now they suddenly moved out into the open, despite all the dangers, to comply with their biological directive: reproduction.

The crowded animals compete for the highest spot, and some specimens even climb out of the water.

The crowded animals compete for the highest spot, and some specimens even climb out of the water.

While most brittle star species are dioecious, some are hermaphroditic. Some free-spawning hermaphroditic species exclusively release sperm, while the oocytes remain in the body and are fertilized by the sperm of other individuals. The larvae of these hermaphroditic breeders remain in the respiratory cavities, or bursae, and mature there.

Thick white clouds of sperm exit from the genital slits.

Thick white clouds of sperm exit from the genital slits.

On each side of the armpit on the oral side there are slit-shaped genital openings to the bursae—sac-like invaginations that are usually used for respiration. The animal reduces its volume by contracting the oral disc muscles to eject water and increases its volume by breathing in oxygen-rich water. The bursae also contain the gonads. Here, the sperm mature and are stored in a low-liquid form. During spawning, the gonads empty the sperm into the bursae, which serve as reservoirs. The germ cells are diluted with water, so the amount of sperm that finally emerges through the openings at the bases of the arms appears to be very great.

This is a typical posture: the oral disc is raised to squeeze the sperm out through the genital slits.

This is a typical posture: the oral disc is raised to squeeze the sperm out through the genital slits.

In seemingly endless swells, this white mass exits through the genital slits, drips down, and forms elongated streaks in the open water. In contrast lighting, the five or six-armed stars look like comets with white tails. The sperm gradually mixes with the surrounding water to form a homogeneous, whitish mist that envelops everything.

Others join in from near the water’s surface.

Others join in from near the water’s surface.

Within about an hour, most of the 50 brittle stars had released sperm. Some had remained near their hiding places in the typical spawning posture, with exposed oral discs. However, most of the small echinoderms had taken the more daring path, climbing up to the water’s surface in order to ensure that their own genes were spread as widely as possible. Some in top form unloaded huge masses into the 16-gallon (60-L) aquarium. The turbidity was significant, but none of the other aquarium animals developed signs of a lack of oxygen or other discomfort. The skimmer continued to work normally and showed no tendency to bubble over. A short time later, the tiny reef had returned to normal and there was no sign of the brittle stars’ “white wedding.”

In contrast lighting, the five- or six-armed stars exhibit a white comet tail—reminiscent of a “white wedding.”

In contrast lighting, the five- or six-armed stars exhibit a white comet tail—reminiscent of a “white wedding.”

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August 30, 2013 - 8:56 AM No Comments

Pity we will never see these legally in Aus

Aquacultured Clarion Angel Comes to the US

09 Aug, 2013

Aquacultured Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, images courtesy / copyright Quality Marine

Aquacultured Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, images courtesy / copyright Quality Marine

Press Release. Quality Marine, 08-07-2013

In a Western Hemisphere First, An Aquacultured Clarion Angel is Available!

Quality Marine is proud to announce the first Aquacultured Clarion Angel (Holacanthus clarionensis) available for sale in North America. This fish was produced from a captive breeding at Bali Aquarich, where it was reared to a salable size. It was then shipped to the United Kingdom for a brief period and now it is beginning its North American tour in Southern California, here at Quality Marine.

Aquacultured Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, images courtesy / copyright Quality Marine

Aquacultured Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, images courtesy / copyright Quality Marine

What makes the Clarion so special?

The Clarion Angel is a gorgeous fish that adapts very well to aquarium environments. They are hardy and are “personable” tank inhabitants. Though they can be pugnacious with tank mates, they generally learn to recognize people as feeders and will interact with them.

This is a fish with a very limited distribution, coming only from shallow water tropical reef locations from the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico down to Clipperton Island. The majority of the species are found in the Revillagigedo Islands. The population size, distribution, and habitat that this fish prefers is so limited that it could easily be over exploited. It is currently listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List. Quality Marine does not import or stock wild Clarion Angels.

Aquacultured Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, images courtesy / copyright Quality Marine

Aquacultured Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, images courtesy / copyright Quality Marine

Biology / Captive Care

Juveniles of this species are generally solitary and territorial and occasionally have been seen acting as cleaner fish. Adults are generally also observed singly, and have also been observed acting as cleaners for very large rays. They also occasionally form large groups which some literature suggests is for breeding.

H. Clarionensis has a fairly small adult size at 7.8 inches. Like most fish in their genus, a large portion of their wild diet consists of sponge matter, with some aquarists reporting that coloration fades if food containing sponges is not offered. The blue barring of this juvenile fish will fade and it will end up being a brilliant gold coloration.

Aquacultured Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, images courtesy / copyright Quality Marine

Aquacultured Clarion Angelfish from Bali Aquarich, images courtesy / copyright Quality Marine

Quality Marine

Celebrating over 35 years in business, Quality Marine continues to provide the Public and Retail Aquarium industry with the highest quality, most sustainable and widest selection of both wild and aquacultured marine fish and invertebrates. Quality Marine works tirelessly to support responsible operators that collect in a sustainable manner and protect the reef habitat. We encourage all industry professionals to do the same. We continue to exhibit our commitment to helping make this industry a better one, to help protect our resources for not only the longevity of our trade, but also for the preservation of the environment. As our business grows, we still focus on the keys to our success, Quality, Variety, and Service, second to none.

Eli Fleishauer
Quality Marine

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August 22, 2013 - 10:25 AM No Comments

“Fishzilla” Loose in Central Park Lake

“Fishzilla” Loose in Central Park Lake

02 May, 2013

snakeheadgiant22inhead

A large, fearsome predator, the Northern Snakehead grows to lengths in excess of 40 in (1 m) and has a notorious worldwide reputation as an invasive species. Credit: Maryland Dept. of Fisheries Service.

Peaceful Harlem Meer has long been a place to cast a fly or a worm-baited hook in hopes of catching something in the panfish category—yellow perch, small bass, and crappies—but several fishermen have been reporting surprise or downright terror when they have latched into toothy gamefish with pugnacious attitudes and mouthsfull of razor-sharp teeth.

harlem-meer-l

Harlem Meer, a manmade lake dating from the 1860s in New York’s Central Park, is now reported to be home to a population of introduced Northern Snakeheads, Channa argus. Credit: Central Park Conservancy.

Tucked into the northeastern corner of New York City’s Central Park, Harlem Meer is an 11-acre manmade body of water created started in 1861 today appears to have been invaded by Northern Snakeheads, Channa argus, an apex freshwater predator native to China and Korea and a notorious introduced species in a number of countries and U.S. states, including Florida, Maryland, California, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, including British Columbia in Canada.

There is considerable concern among North American fish and wildlife experts that the Northern Snakehead might make it into the Great Lakes and seriously disrupt a huge aquatic ecosystem. NY officials say it is “unlikely” it can migrate from Central Park and end up in the Hudson River, and thence spread northward to Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence River and westward toward Lake Ontario.

Biologists regard this fish, which can grow to lengths in excess of 40 inches (102 cm) and more than 15 pounds (6.8 kg), as a voracious species capable of seriously impacting native species of fishes and other aquatic life. Dubbed “Fishzilla” or “Frankenfish” by some, it has the anatomical ability to breathe aerially, making it capable of living out of water for several days. Young of the species are reported to be able to wriggle overland for short distances, raising the spectre of the fish migrating from one body of water to another.

Intentional Releases

Although aquarists are often blamed for releasing exotic fishes into the wild, most of the blame regarding snakeheads is pointed at the Asian food fish trade, which traditionally offers live snakeheads for sale to cooks. Federal US law has forbid the possession, sale, or transport of live snakeheads since 2002, but they are in high demand for Asian cookery and folk medicine uses and somehow make their way into North American markets.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Snakehead is prized by Asian chefs for its first flesh, but represents the sort of new predator that could dominate ecosystems where it is artificially introduced. Credit: USGS.

In a recent article on the newly discovered Harlem Meer population, Marc Santora of The New York Times reported one potential major source of the species in the New York area:

“After the seizure of 353 live snakeheads at Kennedy International Airport on the eve of the 2010 Chinese New Year, an investigation led to the arrest of a local wholesaler in 2011 who illegally imported thousands of snakeheads and sold them from a shop in Brooklyn.”

Authorities are trying to determine the extent of population of the Central Park snakeheads and have not yet announced any control measures. In other instances, snakeheads have been exterminated by the use of the botanical rotenone, which unfortunately wipes out all other fishes in the same body of water.

Fish and wildlife managers are telling fishermen that hooked snakeheads must never be released, but rather turn in to authorities or killed by “cutting or bleeding.” A wooden stake through the heart is said to be effective.

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May 4, 2013 - 9:54 AM Comment (1)

Wild Blue Wilderness Found

Wild Blue Wilderness Found

25 Apr, 2013

Swarms of tangs, dominated by Powder Blue Surgeonfish, Acanthurus leucosternon.

Swarms of tangs, dominated by Powder Blue Surgeonfish, Acanthurus leucosternon.

Scientists find advantages of bigger marine protected areas

Images by Tim R. McClanahan, Wildlife Conservation Society

In a landmark survey of the Chagos Archipelago, due south of the Maldives in the central Indian Ocean, marine scientists found robust coral cover, higher-than-expected numbers and a huge array of species of fishes. The area was declared a no-take zone just a few years ago.

The findings are prompting leading international marine scientists to call for the protection of more, large marine wilderness areas in a bid to shield the world’s dwindling stocks of fish from destruction.

Working in the world’s largest unfished marine reserve, the remote Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean, scientists from Australia and the US have shown there is a dramatic difference in the numbers, size and variety of fish compared with smaller marine parks.

Healthy, heavy coral cover was found, despite a serious bleaching event in 1998 in the central Indian Ocean.

Healthy, heavy coral cover was found, despite a serious bleaching event in 1998 in the central Indian Ocean.

Their findings in two new reports provide the first clear evidence that large-scale marine wilderness reserves are may be better for conserving fish than the far more common, small marine protected areas (MPAs) that many governments and fishing communities are presently implementing.

“The bottom line is that we found six times more fish in the Chagos ‘no take’ area than we did in even the best-managed Marine Reserves elsewhere in the Indian Ocean,” said lead author of the reports, Dr. Nick Graham of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.

Dr. Nick Graham

Dr. Nick Graham

“There was also a dramatic difference in types of species that dominate with a far richer variety of predatory and large-bodied fish species with big home ranges in the Chagos,” said his colleague, Dr. Tim McClanahan, of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Coral cover in the Chagos area was almost complete, having recovered rapidly from a major bleaching episode, in 1998.

The Chagos Archipelago, also known as the British Indian Ocean Territory, and its entire 640,000 square kilometre area was designated a no-take zone in April 2010, making it the largest such marine reserve in the world. It is in the central Indian Ocean due south of the Maldives.

“In recent times there have been bold moves by nations such as Britain, Australia and the United States to set aside much larger areas of open ocean in an effort to try to conserve fish stocks that appear to be dwindling all around the planet,” Dr Graham said.

“What wasn’t clearly known before now was whether there is a significant difference in conservation impact of large remote unfished reserves of thousands of square kilometers, as opposed to the much smaller ones of tens of square kilometers that are typical of populated coastlines. Well, now we know the answer.”

Heavily targeted by fishermen in other areas, parrotfish numbers in the park are reportedly very strong.

Heavily targeted by fishermen in other areas, parrotfish numbers in the park are reportedly very strong.

The researchers say it is important to have large areas of oceans protected from human impacts, not only to preserve fish stocks and protect vulnerable marine species – but also as an undisturbed baseline for understanding the changes that human population pressures and climate change are bringing to the oceans as a whole.

“There seems little doubt that formal legislative protection of some of the world’s last remaining marine ‘wilderness’ locations, such as the Chagos protected area, is a critical step to maintaining some near-pristine legacy areas in the oceans,” they say.

The researchers acknowledge that marine reserves closer to centres of human population require different kinds of management and need to be smaller, to ensure that people can still draw their livelihoods and food from the sea – and these smaller marine reserves also provide important conservation gains.

As world fish stocks decline, large remote wilderness reserves require careful protection against plundering by illegal and ‘pirate’ fishing concerns.

Dr. Tim McClanahan

Dr. Tim McClanahan

“Clearly marine wilderness does promote a unique ecological community, which smaller no-take areas fail to attain, and formal legislation is therefore critical to protect these last marine wilderness areas,” the scientists conclude.

Their findings and comments are in a new scientific article “The last call for marine wilderness?” by Nick Graham and Tim McClanahan in the journal Bioscience, and a chapter by Nick Graham, Morgan Pratchett, Tim McClanahan and Shaun Wilson in a forthcoming book, Coral Reefs of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories (Springer 2013).

Credits: From materials released by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Issued: April 15, 2013.  Images Copyright © 2013 by Tim McClanahan

http://www.coralcoe.org.au/

http://www.wcs.org

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April 27, 2013 - 10:16 AM No Comments

New PNG Livestock…


PNG Sustainably Collected Livestock Arrives
Aquarists can expect rare fishes and exotic clowns
Gold Nugget Wrasse
The Golden Nugget Wrasse, just arrived from EcoAquariums Papua New Guinea.

On a hot Southern California summer afternoon in a Valley warehouse adjacent to Van Nuys airport, an important bit of North American aquarium history occurred. On Saturday, July 14th, the first North American shipment of sustainably collected marine aquarium animals from EcoAquariums Papua New Guinea (PNG), Ltd. arrived in the United States. This marks the first opportunity since North American aquarists rallied around the new PNG aquarium fishery in late summer 2010 that sustainably collected animals from PNG will be widely available to Americans.

“This shipment is not only important to me personally,Joe-CaparattaJoe Caparatta, right, told CORAL Magazine during an interview while the animals were being unpacked, “I feel that it’s important for the hobby.” Caparatta is the owner of Manhattan Aquariums and New York Aquarium Service. He founded the original Unique Corals in the basement of the New York store before moving it to Los Angeles, where he is rebranding it with the sustainability ethos.

Caparatta and partner Scott Fellman are set to launch the new Unique Corals, a boutique marine aquarium business dedicated to making “conscientious, sustainable and responsible” aquarium animals widely and readily available through both wholesale and retail sales. The official launch of the new company is scheduled for early August, and the recently imported PNG fishes (and a few zoanthids and other inverts) are front and center in the inaugural line-up of a uniquely different approach to the marine aquarium trade.

Walking the Walk of Sustainability

“We wanted to ‘walk the walk,’” explains Caparatta as he unpacks a stunning hybrid Lemonpeel Angelfish (Centropyge flavissimus). “We wanted to create a company whose ethics and mission statement truly mirror our belief that there can be a healthy, sustainable way to collect fishes and corals. EcoAquariums PNG is a perfect fit for our business model, and we feel that continuing to support organizations like [it] will result in an ornamental fish trade that is viable for many years, respecting not only the reefs themselves and the animals that live there, but the people who make their living collecting from them.”

Fellman, watching a Percula Clown being tanked, below, who most recently worked at Connecticut-based House of Fins, returned to his native Southern California to help launch Unique Corals with Caparatta. Johnny Ciotti, former creative director and photographer at Ecoxotic, is also involved in the new company, which, according to the mission statement, will only support “responsible collectors, aquaculture facilities, coral propagators, fish breeders, and marine scientists who believe that it is possible to have a thriving aquarium hobby/industry and, more important, a healthy marine environment, for future generations to enjoy.” Ciotti is working with Fellman on forging brand identity and creative strategy.

Scott-Percula-Clown 2
The History of PNG’s Marine Aquarium Fishery

While it has had a bit of a rocky history, the PNG marine aquarium fishery remains synonymous with sustainability for many North American aquarists. In 2010, PNG became emblematic of what a growing number of North American aquarists believe is a necessary sea change in how the global marine aquarium trade operates. Based on the collaborative work undertaken by EcoEZ, a US-based environmental consultancy, and PNG National Fisheries Authority (NFA), PNG-based SEASMART emerged on the public stage during the summer of 2010. The PNG marine aquarium fishery promised to become one of only a handful of marine aquarium fisheries—and, notably, the only one in a developing island nation—sustainably managed based on scientific data.

As CORAL Magazine covered in “A New Frontier for Marine Livestock Collection” (July/Aug 2010), SEASMART’s definition of sustainability went well beyond environmental sustainability. For SEASMART, sustainability also meant socio-economic sustainability for fishers and fisher communities, something many aquarists had never contemplated.

There is palpable excitement as people get a glimpse of livestock from the new collection areas in Papua New Guinea. Through having access to PNG, aquarists will start seeing some stunning “new” animals like the so-called Gold Nugget Wrasse (Xenojulis margaritaceus) and a plethora of misbarred clownfishes best exemplified, of course, by the now famous Lightning Maroon Clownfish.

EcoAquariums Picks Up Where SEASMART Left Off

Unfortunately, just as word was getting out to North American hobbyists about SEASMART in September 2010, the three-year trial period, during which SEASMART was heavily subsidized by NFA, was coming to an end. While SEASMART managers hoped to continue to operate collaboratively with NFA in PNG, fisheries managers decided to head in a different direction and privatize the fishery. As a result, for sustainably minded North American aquarists who were now eager to have access to PNG animals, there were no PNG animals available. Industry observers who had hoped PNG’s marine aquarium fishery could be a model and impetus for trade reform, watched anxiously, knowing that privatization of the fishery could go either way. In 2011, NFA announced they would award one export permit to one marine aquarium business, and early that summer, as reported in CORAL, EcoAquariums PNG was announced as the permit holder.

Daniel Navin, an American who had been the mariculture director for SEASMART, is the founding director of EcoAquariums. While the company has already shipped to both Asia and the United Kingdom, this first shipment to the United States is particularly noteworthy for Navin.

“It has been a long time coming and quite the challenge getting fish from Papua New Guinea to the USA,” says Navin, who had initially hoped to have PNG animals in the United States last year. “I am very excited to know that our little fishes from PNG are now available to hobbyists in the USA,” continues Navin, “and I am very excited to gauge the retail market reaction to both the sustainability and traceability aspects of these fish.”

IMG_2685-Bagged-AngelTransparency Lacking in North American Trade

At present, the aquarium animals available to aquarists in North America represent the gamut in terms of sustainability and legality. Because it is so difficult for the aquarist at the point of sale to know the origin of the animal he or she purchases, the reality is that most North American aquarists who have purchased marine fishes, corals and other invertebrates from fisheries around the world have unwittingly supported unsustainable fisheries, destructive fishing practices and illegal activity.

While there are some fisheries, such as those in the smaller developing island nations (e.g., Fiji, Solomon Islands, etc.), where collection is generally sustainable and destructive fishing practices like cyanide use is rare, it often difficult or impossible for the aquarist to know they are purchasing an animal from one of these countries unless, of course, the animal is endemic.

While various certification and labeling schemes (e.g., Marine Aquarium Council certification and Quality Marine’s tank tags) have attempted to address this issue, there is still a distinct lack of transparency in the North American marine aquarium trade.

“This is why what Dan is doing with EcoAquariums is so exciting,” says Fellman holding up an EcoAquariums PNG label taped to a bag with a so-called “PNG naked clownfish.” “Every single animal has one of these tags,” says Fellman, as he prepares to acclimate the fish. “By passing this tag along to the aquarist, they know where the animal originated and how it was collected. That’s a big deal.”

Will People Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is?

The big question, as alluded to earlier by Navin, is how will these sustainably collected animals from PNG be received in the marketplace, and, more pointedly, will aquarists be willing to pay a price premium for them? Given the fishery management procedures, the higher-than-average wage paid to the fishers and the cost of freight from PNG, Unique Corals will need to pass along some of the additional cost with the tag. Fellman believes aquarists will be willing to pay a little more for these animals. After all, this is a model consumers in North America commonly see employed at the grocery store. Whether it be sustainable seafood, cage-free hen eggs, grass-fed beef, fair trade coffee, or any number of other products that are priced somewhat higher than their non-ecolabeled counterparts, consumers in the United States have proven there is enough market share for both “cheap” products and products that may be more consistent with an individual’s personal ethic.

Dale Pritchard is owner and managing director of EcoreefUK Ltd., a wholesaler of marine ornamental fishes and corals in the UK, and he has been actively working to promote and sell EcoAquarium’s fishes in the United Kingdom for the past six months. “It has become clear to me that there is definitely a market for a sustainable option,” he says, “but the most difficult part has been convincing retailers to stock the fish.” Pritchard explains that, for many marine aquarium livestock retailers, it is all about economics. “Success for them is to be able to sell fish cheaper than their competitors down the road.” While Pritchard certainly understands the role of price in driving markets, he strongly believes price should not trump all else. Misbarred Maroon Clown, below, part of first shipment.

Maroon-Clown
“The truth in fact is the most successful retailers are the stores that offer something different with great service and advice,” he says. “The most successful retailers I have visited understand this and will not consider the price as being the primary driver in purchasing decisions.” Pritchard says, in his experience, these retailers tend to have a deeper understanding of the marine aquarium industry and the importance of having a unique selling point.
Pritchard and Unique Corals’ Fellman and Caparatta are hedging their bets on the belief that there are enough customers—both wholesale and retail—who are willing to pay a price premium for a marine aquarium animal with just such a distinguishing selling point. “EcoAquariums makes it easier to show this at the point of sale through their labeling system, which really sets their animals apart,” says Pritchard. At present, the EcoAquariums’ label accompanying every animal exported is the closest thing aquarists have to a now widely available ecolabel.

“Besides being sustainably collected and equitably traded,” explains Navin, “all of our fish come with a serialized waterproof tag that allows each fish to tell a unique story.” Each tag has a specific number that, when entered into the EcoAquariums database, gives the aquarist an ever more complete picture of where the animal originated and its collection and transport to the local fish store.

“The tags come into their own in helping to generate interest and an introduction for storekeepers to talk about the sustainable and ethical nature of EcoAquariums’ operation,” says Pritchard, who adds that aquarists in the UK have been willing to pay a price premium of up to 25 percent more for these animals from PNG. In an industry where devaluing the animals is one of the greatest threats to sustainability, these increased prices are widely thought to be a positive step for the trade.

Real Challenges—and Opportunities—Lay Ahead

Unique Corals plans to launch its website in August, making these and other animals widely available to sustainably minded aquarists across the United States. Southern California aquarists will have an opportunity to view and purchase these animals prior to the official company launch at what Unique Corals is calling a “Sneak Pique” at their Van Nuys facility on Saturday, July 21st.

In addition to the PNG animals from EcoAquariums PNG, there will be a variety of other cultured animals and animals sourced from sustainable collectors available at “exclusive pre-debut prices.” Unique Corals will also be holding a raffle at the event, with proceeds benefitting the Coral Restoration Foundation.

“We know that the real challenge for Unique Corals will be to educate the consumer to chose sustainably-sourced livestock that may cost a little more from known sources, over low priced animals that may have been collected with unethical, non-sustainable practices,” Caparatta tells CORAL after a long day of unpacking the first 15 boxes of PNG animals to arrive in North America in roughly two years. “We believe that a properly educated consumer will make the right choice.”

…and that’s why Unique Corals has already discussed its next order with EcoAquariums.

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July 20, 2012 - 2:53 PM No Comments

Field Report from the Banggai Team

BANGGAI RESCUE SCIENCE TEAM UPDATE
Tracking transplanted Banggai Cardinals
Roy-Stressed-Fish-600px
Banggai Rescue scientific team member Dr. Roy Yanong, VMD, inspects a bag of stressed Banggai Cardinalfish at Bone Baru, Banggai Islands. It is believed the species may become more susceptible to a lethal virus secondary to stress, so the Team is looking at as many of the widely varying supply chains as possible.

Luwuk, Sulawesi, Indonesia
June, 2012

By Ret Talbot

As we’ve come to expect, it didn’t take long for U.S.-based scientists who are part of the Banggai Rescue (BR) international science team to find “invasive” Banggai Cardinalfish in Sulawesi. Upon arriving in Luwuk (Central Sulawesi) by increasingly smaller aircraft from Denpasar in Bali, the U.S.-based BR team members had most of a day to kill before meeting up with their Indonesian counterparts and heading by ferry to the Banggai Islands. What to do?
Look for Banggais, of course!Matt Wittenrich shooting Banggai Cardinalfish, Luwuk Hrbour
An introduced population of Banggai cardinalfish in Luwuk Harbour is oft-cited in the literature, and we suspected it would not be hard to find. So we arranged for a car and driver, loaded up the gear and headed out armed with pictures of the species on our phones and a rough approximation of local and trade names. We stopped at several places inquiring about the fish, and while the language barrier certainly exacerbated the situation, the fact that a couple of Americans wanted to see a small fish in the busy and polluted harbour proper as opposed to diving on a nearby near-pristine reef was our biggest obstacle. Finally, with a little more directive leadership, we turned away from the road headed out of town toward the pristine reefs and instead made our way down to Luwuk’s port proper.
The harbour, chiselled against a backdrop of dense mountain forest, was hot with a miasma of odors colliding beneath a blue sky fringed by cumulus clouds skirting the horizon. Wide wood-planked piers cut amidst a tapestry of brightly colored ferries and fishing boats, small traditional craft and a handful of government vessels. Flotsam sloshed in the shallows where freshwater runoff mixed with the stagnant backwater against the stone quay. Plastic bottles, foil wrappers and other sundry trash items were punctuated by the occasional fish carcas and a virtual smörgåsbord of discarded food waste.
Perhaps we wouldn’t get in the water here.

Right, Dr. Matt Wittenrich recording Banggai Cardinalfish near a jetty in Luwuk Harbour.

Our team, most of us glaringly white and no doubt a bit wide-eyed by the sudden assault on all senses, elicited curious stares from locals who clearly don’t see a lot of tourists poking around the Harbour with cameras. Undaunted, we approached the water’s edge with eager anticipation. From several meters away, the blackspine sea urchin clumps were easy to see. A little closer, and there was no doubt there were fish hovering about the urchin clumps. A little closer…and…definitely Banggai Cardinalfish…
…and lots of them!
While these were not the first Banggais we have seen in the wild in Indonesia (we’ve observed three other wild populations in Bali), seeing them here was still a thrill. After studying this animal for so long and from so many different perspectives, all of us could barely contain our enthusiasm. Pointing and talking in excited bursts, snapping photographs of what could only be described as severely degraded habitat, we must have provided Luwuk’s monthly quota of entertainment in a few short minutes.
Unknown Origins
What is often referred to as “a small population of unknown origins” in Luwuk Harbor, appeared to be alive and well, and depending upon how one defines small, it appears anything but. As we travelled around the harbor, we consistently saw Banggai Cardinalfish sheltering around urchins less than a meter from shore in shallow water. While there is some speculation in the literature that this could beFishing-boat-cropped-600pxan endemic population, the latest research (both scientific and sociological) seems to point to an introduction by traders in Banggai Cardinalfish destined for the marine aquarium trade. (It is reported that fish handlers routinely cull damaged, deformed or dying fish and toss them overboard.)
Left, Banggai Rescue scientists Dr. Matt Wittenrich, Dr. Roy Yanong and Yunaldi Yahya head out with a local fisher (and an exceedingly capable young bailer) to collect samples from a village that reports collecting 18,000 Banggai Cardinalfish a month.
As previously reported, the Team has now observed two of the four or five sites where we have heard introduced populations of Banggais are thriving. In addition, the team observed Banggais in a location in North Bali we have not seen cited in the literature. These introduced populations–especially the now infamous Lembeh Straits population to the north–have, of course, been a significant talking point in the ongoing debate about the species and its conservation status.
With introduced populations doing so well even in areas with such abysmal water quality, could this truly be a species on the verge of collapse?

This is a line of reasoning put forth by some, including some members of the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Agency for Marine and Fisheries Research we have interviewed in Indonesia as part of our research.

Of course, as others have pointed out in the literature, this is a complex question. Without looking at extensive population data and understanding the significance and origins of introduced populations versus endemic populations (and without understanding the genetic diversity and the genetic flow (or lack thereof) of sub-populations of the species–a rush to judgement could be very damaging to the species’ future.
FB-Page-400pxAs has been frequently reported, this is a species believed to have an extremely limited endemic distribution. When one combines this with the fish’s high site fidelity and mouthbrooding characteristics (e.g., individuals don’t move very far from their parents throughout their entire life cycle), re-stocking (especially if the stock represent trader’s culled fish) or in-situ culturing initiatives could have deleterious impacts on the species overall genetic diversity. Throw the virus we are here to research into the equation, and fishery aside, it could easily be argued this a fish that needs a management plan to ensure its fitness into the future.
Filled with renewed excitement for the Banggai Rescue Project and our role in that Project, the U.S.-based team members headed back to the rendezvous point with our Indonesian counterparts. Tonight we are off to the Banggai Islands by ferry.

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July 6, 2012 - 6:42 AM No Comments

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