Sections

Services

Information

AU Australia

Fish

Analysis and Comment (47)

About 18% of the world’s seagrass stocks have disappeared over 20 years. Richard Unsworth

For the love of cod, let’s save our disappearing seagrass

Seagrass is one of the most important coastal habitats where young ocean-going fish such as Atlantic cod can grow and develop before setting out on the journey of life. But these critically important habitats…
Coral reef ecosystem off Palmyra Atoll part of newly expanded Marine National Monument. Jim Maragos/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Pacific Remote Islands protection not just a drop in the ocean

This fall, President Obama signed a proclamation that created the biggest marine reserve in the world. By extending the protective boundaries around Wake Island, Jarvis Island and Johnston Atoll from 50…
An artist’s reconstruction of Metaspriggina walcotti, the world’s oldest definite fish. Artwork by Marianne Collins

The oldest fish in the world lived 500 million years ago

It looked more like the worm on an angler’s hook than any living fish we might recognise today but it still takes the record for the oldest known fish to date. The first fossil fishes are known from scant…
Changing waves and currents can keep fish on the move. Jordan Casey

Oceans in motion: why some fish can’t go with the flow

Have you ever been snorkelling or scuba diving on a windy day when there are lots of waves? Did you notice how much that flow of water against your body affected your ability to swim and control your movements…
Baby salmon: TomTom not required. Tom Quinn and Richard Bell

Magnetic maps guide young salmon from river to sea

How does a young animal find its way to an unfamiliar location hundreds or thousands of kilometres from where it was born? A reasonable idea might be to find an older, experienced migrant and follow. This…
Air-breathing fishes such as Polypterus ornatipinnis laid foundations for modern ears. Flickr/lapradei

Now listen: air-breathing fish gave humans the ability to hear

A century-old mystery about how ancient freshwater fishes breathe has finally been put to rest, thanks to a study published today in Nature Communications by me and a team of ichthyologists. The fishes…
It’s all uphill for salmon right now. David Cheskin/PA

Shrinking wild salmon starve at sea as North Atlantic warms

It is an enduring mystery how juvenile salmon, at 12cm long and weighing perhaps only 20g, can leave a Scottish river in springtime, undertake a sojourn of thousands of kilometres around the North Atlantic…
Maria Island’s protected waters have given us insight into how species respond to warmer temperatures. Paul Benjamin

Marine reserves help fish resist climate change invaders

Southeast Australia is an ocean warming “hotspot” – a region where temperature at the ocean’s surface is increasing more rapidly than elsewhere. That means this part of Australia is like an outdoor laboratory…
Finding Entelognathus is a revelation comparable to the discovery of Archaeopteryx. Brian Choo

Extraordinary ‘missing link’ fossil fish found in China

A spectacular new “missing link” fossil has been unearthed in China. The 419 million year old armoured fish, called Entelognathus, meaning “complete jaw” solves an age-old debate in science. For palaeontologists…
Skate, or “skate”? Andrew M Griffiths

Unchecked food fraud threatens vulnerable fish

The deliberate act of falsely representing, labelling or advertising food, known as “food fraud”, is not a recent phenomenon. The deceitful adulteration of food has a long history based on the promise…
Who’s in charge here? Fish adapt to their new roles. Shinnosuke Nakayama

Following fish teach us that leaders are born, not made

In our society, not many people are lucky enough to have an ideal boss who they would want to follow faithfully for the rest of their lives. Many might even find their boss selfish and arrogant or complain…
Metal-resistant trout: first Cornish rivers, then the world. Philthy54

The trout that like heavy metal

Contaminated during the surrounding area’s history of mining, the River Hayle in Cornwall contains metals including copper, zinc, nickel and cadmium at levels that can kill brown trout, a particularly…
Each Spotted Handfish has its own unique spot pattern. Tess Moriarty

Australian endangered species: Spotted Handfish

The Spotted Handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) is a small fish that lives on the sea bed in the cool, sheltered waters of south-east Tasmania. It has modified pelvic fins that look like “hands”, hence…
A reconstruction of a ptyctodontid fish, one of the groups of placoderms studied from which well-preserved muscles were found. John A Long

From bone to brawn: ancient fish show off their muscles

Fossilised soft tissues, such as skin and muscle, are exceptionally hard to come by. When you think the chances of an animal being fossilised is less than one in a million - and these usually have only…
Left: environment of the early tetrapod (Acanthostega) and tetrapodomorph fish (Eusthenopteron). Right: the axolotl and Australian lungfish. Catherine Boisvert

A dip in your hip, a glide in your stride? You have fish to thank

Around 395 million years ago, the first tetrapod (four-legged animal) wandered out of its watery home and stepped onto land. This was made possible by the evolution of weight-bearing hips consisting of…
In the hold, but for how long? Wasting millions of tonnes of seafood is a tragedy. Maurice McDonald/PA Archive

We must stop committing valuable fish to a watery grave

In European waters controlled by the EU Common Fisheries Policy, the discarding of fish overboard has long been condemned by environmentalists and regretted by fishers. According to the UN Food and Agriculture…
Medicine residues that we flush down the toilet can affect fish and other wildlife. Chris Ison/PA

Popping pills can harm wildlife via a trip to the loo

It’s not a thought that occurs to most of us, but flushing the toilet doesn’t just mean disposing of our bodily waste. We’re also flushing away some of the medicine we take down with it. Our contraceptive…
A tiny male Red-finned Blue-eye, half the size of your little finger. Adam Kereszy

Australian endangered species: Red-finned Blue-eye

The Red-finned Blue-eye (Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis) grows to a maximum of three centimetres long. As males reach adulthood they develop the vivid colouration suggested by their common name. In contrast…
The Murray cod is popular amongst fishers, and also critically endangered - at least according to the IUCN. Flickr/guochai

Australian endangered species: Murray Cod

The Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) is the largest native Australian freshwater fish species, and is probably the most iconic. The species’ credentials are impressive: it can live for more than 50 years…
How and why have the colour patterns of coral reef fish changed over time? David Cook

Dazzling or deceptive? The markings of coral reef fish

Have you ever wondered why coral reef fishes are so brilliantly coloured and bizarrely patterned? A quick flick through any coral reef fish guide will leave you bewildered and awed. To answer this question…
Should you eat this? The new snapshot of Australian fish stocks is unlikely to help you decide. avlxyz/flickr

Do assessments of fish stock sustainability work for consumers?

The report, Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks 2012 is the first official report combining assessments of major Commonwealth and state-managed fisheries into one document. The report paints a rosy picture…
In order to drag themselves onto land, fish-like creatures needed limbs. Thierrry

They came from the sea: the gene behind limb evolution

In the late Devonian period, roughly 365 million years ago, fish-like creatures started venturing from shallow waters onto land. Among the various adaptations associated with the switch to land life was…
Is layer after layer of regulation the solution to the problems the freshwater life of the Murray-Darling Basin face? Kristian Golding

Micro-managing the Murray-Darling Basin: what’s in it for fish?

This is part two of a series investigating the effect Murray-Darling water policy has on acquatic life. It’s told from the perspective of the new water minister, a Murray Cod called Mac Peelii, who last…
The mechanisms that make some fish hard to see could be used in next-generation electronics. mattieb

‘Invisible’ fish could light the way to better optical devices

Imagine setting up mirrors in a circle around you, the shiny sides all facing outwards to reflect your surroundings. To the casual observer you would appear to be “invisible”, blending into the environment…
Fisheries around the world are depleted, but they can be saved. Isaac Pearlman

It is still possible to make fisheries sustainable

Many fisheries around the world are in bad shape and getting worse. Solving this problem will require innovative monitoring and management tools, but we can provide tremendous benefits if we act now to…
If you’re a female guppy it pays to take many mates … sort of. André "Drekas" Correia/Flickr

More sex partners means more grandkids … if you’re a guppy

Here’s some good news: having more sexual partners makes females more fertile. A recent study on Trinidadian guppies has shown that females who mate with multiple males produce more grand-offspring than…
Are any of these fish sustainable? A seafood guide might help you figure it out, but it might not… Diarmuid Fisherman/Flickr

Conflicting sustainable seafood guides confuse consumers

Whether at the supermarket or the local fisho, most people find it difficult to know what seafood is sustainable. To help consumers make more informed choices, conservation organisations have been busy…
We are really just beginning to learn what’s gone wrong for native species like the Murray Cod. Biodiversity Heritage Library

Native fish - and recreational fishers - need native fish funding

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Native Fish Strategy (NFS) is at serious risk of winding up, after NSW announced it is cutting its financial contributions. This is a serious blow to the conservation…
It’s not the fish we should worry about, but the other creatures the “super trawler” will catch. Charles Van den Broek

Bycatch the real concern as super trawler heads for Australia

Concerns about licensing a foreign super trawler to fish our southern seas have centred on the negative effect on fish stocks. These fears are largely unfounded. The real concern is for Australian mammals…
The Margiris is heading to Australia to catch jack mackerel, but there are plenty more fish in the sea. Richard Ling

Opposition to the Margiris ‘super trawler’ not evidence based

The Margiris “super-trawler” is heading for Australia to catch jack mackerel and associated small surface-dwelling species. It faces a lot of opposition, largely based on assertions that the vessel’s catches…
Tuna fishers agree that too many tuna are caught. But there is no good system to decide who should catch less. Justin Woolford

Who pays for conservation in the world’s biggest tuna fishery?

The world catches too many tuna. Thanks to our high levels of fishing, some tuna species are under threat. Everyone involved in the fishing industry agrees that fishing effort needs to be reduced. But…
The new marine reserves will take in just a fraction of Australia’s massive ocean resources. Carlos Duarte

Marine parks a buffer for marine species and the fishing industry

Australia’s brand-new marine park proposal has great historic precedent. For hundreds of years, ocean managers have found that reducing fishing can repair fish stocks and benefit not just ocean species…
Reducing fishing in the Coral Sea could hugely benefit species. It’s up to the government to make sure it benefits fishers too. Sam Ilic

A solid marine parks compensation package will be good for fish and fishers

Coral Sea protection is eminently doable - but the question is, will Australia effectively manage the process of creating the largest network of marine protected areas in world? The creation of the largest…
Scientists are clear that tuna catch needs to be cut, but figuring out who will fish less and where is much trickier. AAP

What a tangled net: unravelling the international complications of tuna conservation

The eighth meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission concluded in Guam on Friday 30 March 2012. Five hundred delegates from more than 40 countries argued for a week about how to reduce…
How do you get the girl? That’s a nom-brainer. Yann Audras

No food, no love: female fish prefer well-nourished males

“Finish your dinner or there’ll be no dessert for you!” – it’s a cry heard at dinner tables around the world, as mothers battle to convince their sons about the importance of eating properly. Sorry lads…
Water bursting from dams doesn’t just look impressive; it’s vital to the health of Australian rivers. Kincuri

Rivers, rain and releases: what happens when you dam a waterway?

Water exploding from the Jindabyne Dam into the Snowy River made for compelling viewing in recent TV news reports. As well as being good TV, this water release highlighted the importance of releases in…
Protecting coral reefs means thinking about people, not just marine species. Fran Tapia

Poverty, not population, is ruining coral reef ecosystems

Overfishing is a serious problem on many of the world’s coral reefs – a problem that is generally attributed to too many people. But our research has found that economic development, rather than population…
Fishing has been banned in Gladstone while authorities try to determine what’s killing marine species. robstephaustralia

Is dredging killing the Gladstone fish and making us sick?

Several individuals have required medical attention after a mystery disease appeared to spread to humans from fish in waters near Gladstone, Queensland. Fishing bans are currently in place and local residents…
Southern bluefin tuna are critically endangered, but the fishing industry wants to catch more. AAP

Tuna or not tuna? The real cost of taking a fish out of water

The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna is meeting today to discuss raising Australia’s tuna fishing quota. The tuna industry is expected to ask for a 30% rise in Australia’s allocated…
It will take more than science to save the last tuna from becoming sashimi. x v r/Flickr

Saving tuna from overfishing means playing politics

Fisheries provide animal protein for much of the world’s population, and provide livelihoods for the millions of people who work in fishing industries. But overfishing, in conjunction with other human…

Research and News (5)

Research Briefs (56)

Invasive fish prove to be resourceful

Invasive species of fish, collectively known as Asian carp, may prove more of a concern to American river systems than previously…

Warmer oceans could lead to smaller fish

Change in climate, resulting in warmer and less oxygenated oceans, could mean a reduction in the size of fish. Over 600 species…

Fishy ‘alarm substance’ analysed

Researchers from the Agency of Science, Technology and Research in Singapore have analysed the nature of the “alarm substance…

Finding where fish are most at risk

Researchers have developed a way to identify conservation hotspots in the world oceans. These are areas where overfishing…

Limb gene present in ancient fish

A genetic instruction controlling limb development was present in fish almost half a billion years ago, researchers at a…

Toadfish grunts not so simple

The simple grunting sound of the toadfish might contain surprisingly complex information. Birds, amphibians and mammals use…