Monday, June 9, 2008

TARP Fish website up

My new TARP Fish website is now up and running. See TARP Watch for more details. The new website is expected to replace the functions of this TARP Fish blog, so I do not expect to publish any more here, but for the sake of the archive and so as not to break links already established 'out there' I will not close it for the time being.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Website on the way

Feedback would be welcome. I'm at present constructing a website with a built in, simple key to guide users into the matrix of reef fish identification at TARP. It will also have the same access as this blog site to the annotated checklist and the 'wall' of illustrated descriptive panels, as well as the external fish news. I am anticipating stopping blogging here in due course and switching my chit-chat to TARPWatch when the fish identification website can take over from this blog (a somewhat unwieldy place to put so much information but it gave me a quick start). I won't close TARPFish if I do that because it has some archived stuff. So as I say, feedback in principle would be welcome, but otherwise that is my eventual intention.

Incidentally (as I have also mentioned in TARPFish), a recent snorkel appears to have turned up another few new species for me in TARP and I'll post the additions when I get round to it.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Worryingly fascinating species estimates...

Fascinatingly, I have just calculated the expected species total for TARP based on an apparently robust Coral Fish Diversity Index (CFDI - see p.46 of the Raja Ampat report) devised by Gerry Allen (calculated by adding together species in six Index families - ACANTHURIDAE, CHAETODONTIDAE, LABRIDAE, POMACANTHIDAE, POMACENTRIDAE, SCARIDAE & multiplying the resulting CFDI by 3.39, and then subtracting 20.6). Given my CFDI for TARP of 104, I predict a total of 332 fish species in the park (i.e. 33 to see; 31 if you include the Whale shark and accompanying Pilot fish filmed recently by Mark Hedger).

Worryingly however, Allen also mentions in a table on p.48 of the Raja Ampat report that surveys in TARP (I believe he was referring to his own unpublished survey made in 1992 of which I can not find a copy) gave a CFDI of 139 with an estimated fish species richness of 450 (against 357 actual species he found which he puts down to incomplete sampling). I don't want to believe the implication that 25% of 1992's fish species no longer exist in TARP. I'd prefer to believe that I am simply an incompetent and amateurish fish-watcher, because if not, what will the future bring for TARP?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

1 out, 299 down

A useful e-mail came in a couple of days ago which I've just been able to process - namely, POMACENTRIDAE authority Gerry Allen has noted that my adult Pomacentrus grammorhynchus was in fact a juvenile Pomacentrus tripunctatus en route to becoming an adult. My juvenile P. grammorhynchus photos were already somewhat suspect for having such tiny granules of blue on the top of the tail base. "Discretion is the better part of valour," as Falstaff has noted (Henry IV Part 1) and I have decided to withdraw P. grammorhynchus from my TARP fish checklist for the time being; hence the total I have seen till now drops back below 300, to 299. Tantalisingly, the juveniles may represent another species not yet on my checklist but until confirmed, I'll leave them out of it.

I have also amended the foldable checklist.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Checklist improved

As well as several corrections, the first draft checklist has now been amended to include the original species author's name, the year the description was first published, and a link to a bibliographical reference to the original, given by Eschmeyer.

Furthermore, most species now also have a link inserted directly to their relevant FishBase page (a number of mirror sites exist around the world and I have tended just to link to the easiest to connect to from my location at the moment I created the link - this can vary but all sites are mirrors of each other anyway; in general I find the Philippines home server for FishBase the least reliable connection so I usually use either the Taiwan mirror or the Swedish mirror).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Five panels amended

It's inevitable that the first draft of this collection would have mistakes: two careless ones have recently been corrected (Pholidichthys leucotaenia picked up the wrong Species name first time round when a previous panel was used as a template - I had mistakenly let it slip through as P. fasciatus; additionally, I missed out a letter when transcribing Ctenogobiops pomastictus first allowing it to be C. pomasticus). More important is to rename a fish originally identified by an apparently junior synonym: what I said was Halichoeres purpurescens appears more appropriately named Halichoeres leucurus (search Eshmeyer to compare). I have corrected this (as per the example shown here) in both the Initial and Terminal phases. The knock on effect has been the need to change a comment under the Initial phase form of Halichoeres melanurus which made reference to H. purpurescens.

Incidentally, a number of other fish face a similar predicament (Eshmeyer versus FishBase) but I have left them alone for now firstly because there is only one entry in FishBase for them so there should be no confusion - FishBase tends anyway to default to its preferred name when a species search is done (whereas there are entries for both H. leucurus AND H. purpursecens so I wanted to clarify my association), and secondly because in most cases the difference is just the Species suffix which technically according to the ICZN should match the gender of the Genus but FishBase appears to favour the original suffix given when the fish was first named, whilst Eschmeyer appears to have attempted to correct the suffixes of Species as their Genera evolve).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Checklist now on-line

To the right of this blog panel, you should see a link to a foldable checklist of the fish species I have seen in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. I hope to add further features to this checklist in due course, such as links to relevant FishBase pages or other material I have used to help me with identification.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

11 more fish added

The 29th of April 2008 was a gorgeous, calm sea-ed, blue sky-ed day; perfect for snorkelling in the first part of the morning before the sun became overwhelming. Sapi Island has some lovely snorkelling and sure enough, I was able to turn up 10 more species of fish. Some of these - particularly the Needlefish and Moonyfish around the jetty - were unsurprising since I knew they were there and hadn't seen them elsewhere but hadn't previously photographed them. Some of the shallower species which are encountered less often in a dive were on good display too (such as the Stethojulis representatives), so I have updated photos for a few species too.

The recent business of sorting through my photos has also drawn my attention to a previously unrecognised species (Rhabdamia cypselurus) in a photo from back in November 2007. So in total, I have now reached, and uploaded, 300 fish species descriptions in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another 8 species identified

The night dives on 22nd April have proved highly productive: 8 more species on top of the previous total brings me to 289 fish species identified in the park. I know there are a few more species to add from a recent snorkelling trip too but I haven't analysed my photos properly yet.

This Stargazer was a real beauty though. What an ugly face!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Omissions take it to 281 species

A few amendments and a handful of omissions from the first tranche of uploads brings me to 281 fish species in TARP (described in 301 different panels including 318 illustrations). There'll be more to come as I process photos from a couple of recent dives but this now represents my basic baseline; from here on it should just be new variants, sexes and phases, new species, or better photos.

Monday, April 28, 2008

It's complete!

Done! 273 species represented in 293 panels. This represents the minimum number of fish species in TARP and will, I hope, be a helpful start for anyone wanting to identify fish here. It is a much smaller list than could be encountered in a standard photo guide on reef fish, covering as they may, an area like the whole of the tropical Pacific.

It is also notable that a fair number of species here are only represented in one of at least two forms (e.g. Juvenile but not Adult). It is unlikely that TARP is devoid of Adults in those cases (indeed in some, the Juvenile or Initial phase has not yet been encountered by me with a camera), but the many pressures on TARP (see TARP Watch) could plausibly be reducing the number of Adults significantly which is sad and a worry.

I look forward to adding to the 'wall' in due course, and making amendments where necessary.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Percoids finished

It's taken all day but all the suborder Percoidei is up now: 54 more species in 56 panels taking the collection to 224 species described in 244 panels. (In the illustrated example, I'm sorry - I can't resist delicious descriptions and anyway, if an 'Emperor' can be invoked in naming a fish, why not icecream?!)

Percoids begun

Overnight I've been able to make a start uploading my largest Suborder - Percoidei. Of three families so far, the largest has been the Cardinalfishes. So in total now, I've reached 170 species (188 panels). If you're using PicLens to view the collection then I'm sure you're beginning to appreciate it for ease of browsing through such a large number of items. If you're not then I strongly recommend you download and install it (it is only an 'add-on' to your browser, not an isolated programme).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Labroids finished

With the 9 species of Parrotfishes (in 11 panels), I've now completed uploading the Labroid fishes. Interestingly (and I hope not ominously for TARP), I seem to have found it easier to photograph Juveniles and Initial phase fish than the Terminal phase ones. Anyway, I'm now up to 143 species (in 161 panels); over halfway.

Incidentally, I found a new government site today called SyMBiosIS with a growing database of fish found in Malaysian marine waters. (Unfortunately it presently has only 106 species listed and includes both non-reef fishes and those from Peninsular Malaysia which is over 1,000 miles away from here and includes an Indian Ocean coast, so it is ultimately likely to be too general for TARP. However it should allow cross-checking of unexpected species when it is eventually declared to be virtually complete).

Damselfishes ready

Here's another tranche of panels - 47 of them representing 43 species, bringing me to a total of 134 species uploaded in 150 panels. Not quite half way there yet (276 species at last count but my recent night dive will add several more when I can catch up with myself).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wrasses uploaded

It's taken a while but I've completed and uploaded the Wrasses now (29 species in TARP - with 11 extra panels for different sexes, phases and variants). This brings my total so far to
91 species (in 103 panels). Nearly 1/3 done.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blennies & Gobies on line

Another bunch of panels just uploaded covering most of the smaller fish visible on the reef - mainly Gobies (like this one) and Blennies. I'm now up to 62 species (63 panels) of the 276 I hope to get on line soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Surgeons, Bats & Rabbits

A busy day: four more families uploaded just now (Surgeonfishes, Spadefish, Spinefeet and the Moorish Idol) giving a total of 25 species (26 descriptions) so far. Where there are significant differences between Juveniles and Adults (as with Platax pinnatus shown here) or between Females and Males or between Initial phase adults and Terminal phase adults, I will give separate illustrations.

Seven Bony Fish Families Listed

Overnight I've started to upload Bony Fishes (Osteichthyes) with details on species in seven families - Moray eels (an example is shown here), Conger eels, Snake eels, Lizard fish, Squirrelfishes, Anglerfish and Mullet. This brings me to a total of 14 species uploaded so far out of a total of 276 to do.

Incidentally, close examination will reveal that I have used a watercolour effect to show the pictures since this both looks nice and makes up for the poor quality of some of my photos (some fish are just too hard to photograph well since they only show themselves briefly before racing away!)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Online Fish Identification Resource Launched

At last it's here: an online resource to help you identify fishes you might see in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. It launches today with the basic layout (an example is given here) along with the few entries I have relating to Cartilagenous fishes (sharks and rays). It's the most comprehensive and accurate that I can make it, as an amateur Fishwatcher, but I've had some input from several Ichthyologists along the way which is mentioned where relevant and for which I'm very grateful.

Being an amateur with limited Systematics resources to hand, I expect to make mistakes and I hope you will bear with me. If you have a good reason (with a reliable source) to question one of my diagnoses, I would be very pleased to correspond with you.

This is a good moment to point out that at present, my guide shows only fish species which I have photographed here. I know that others have seen Whale sharks etc which I haven't, but I suspect that the number of such species is fairly small. Indeed, I'd be pleased to correspond with anyone who thinks they have a photograph of a species which I do not yet have. (However, please wait for me to upload the 275+ species I have before launching!)

The best way to view the catalogue is at my web album using a viewing add-on called PicLens which can be used with major browsers like Explorer and FireFox. This will allow you to easily and quickly scan a long wall of images to find where you want to focus your attention before zooming in for more details.

NB: ANY DANGER WARNINGS ARE ADVISORY ONLY - I make no guarantee to be right either in making or missing a warning. Check any species carefully via FishBase for better advice than mine.

I will update the blog whenever I add a tranche of pictures and hopefully the whole list will on line soon. After that, I'll make regular amendments and additions in due course.

If you are interested in other aspects of life in, and the context surrounding, TARP then take a regular look (or set up a feed) at my TARP Watch blog.