A photograph of an unusual fish was recently brought to our attention by fishermen on a popular WA-based fishing forum (www.fishwrecked.com). It certainly got us thinking, and after diving into the literature and speaking to colleagues, we are convinced that we have an exciting new record for WA. The fish is known as a Japanese Rubyfish Erythrocles schlegelii (Richardson in 1846), in the family Emmelichthyidae (bonnetmouths). When I searched through the forums, it turns out that this fish has been caught a few times, but no-one has sent one in to the Museum for identification. All of the captures have come from behind Rottnest Island, on the bottom in around 200 m of water, which is typically the shallowest depth for the species (they are found down to 300 m or more). So far, the species is known from Japan (where it was first discovered), Korea, Kenya and South Africa. Only a couple of years ago, it was collected from Australia for the first time (in the Coral Sea, Queensland). Now, we have it from WA too! From all reports, this species has a very dark coloured flesh and does not make a good table fish. It certainly makes you think about what still lives in the depths of our oceans and is still unknown. We think it is fantastic that we can still get new discoveries, even in a place such as Perth, where fishing is a common pastime. Now, we hope to get a specimen to add it to our collection of the state’s fish fauna. Thanks to Paul De Boni and Luke Ryan for permission to use their captures and photographs.
This is the first photograph we saw on fishwrecked.com. Angler: Paul De Boni; Photo: Paul De Boni
A fresh specimen, caught by Luke Church. Photo: Luke Ryan.