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Redmap's most amazing marine sightings

The Redmap Team, 22 Dec 2016.

A tropical manta ray in chilly Tasmania, a rare seahorse in New South Wales and a very happy Queensland fisherman  --  just a few of the amazing photos shared by Redmap members. Check out the top marine sightings as judged by the Redmap Team around Australia.

Redmap's favourite sightings (in no set order):

1.  A manta ray in Tasmania!

The manta ray above was logged in northern Tasmania by fisherman Leo Miller and made media headlines for straying so far south from its usual home in warm, tropical waters! 

“It’s the most southern sighting of Manta birostris ever recorded,” says Redmap founder Assoc Prof Gretta Pecl from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) in Hobart.

The unusual sighting captured the public’s imagination and raised awareness of Redmap. 

“It shows how anyone and everyone can help track and understand changes taking place in our natural world,” Gretta says.

2. What a great seahorse!

“What a beauty!” says Redmap NSW coordinator Dr Troy Gaston about this sighting of a great seahorse (Hippocampus kelloggi).  The rarely-seen seahorse was photographed in Botany Bay, Sydney, by diver Andrew Trevor-Jones. 

"The great seahorse is listed as data deficient by the IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] and we need more information about it,” Troy says. 

This must be an especially great seahorse because Redmap's NSW verifying scientist Dr David Harasti also judged it his favourite  sighting - independent of Troy! 

"The great seahorse is in decline worldwide," says Dr Harasti, a marine biologist at the NSW Department of Industry. "This sighting is the most southern record of the species ever being recorded."

3. Beautiful photography

Diver Georgia Poyner photographed this green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in Narooma NSW. It’s a favourite of IMAS and Redmap data manager Peter Walsh.  Peter is also a photographer and appreciates how the image captures the underwater world; the light, stillness and colours of the seafloor.

Little is known about the distribution of green turtles so Redmap asks for any sightings around Australia to learn more about their movements.

4. The amazing bluefin trevally

“Bluefin trevally have it all: spectacular looks, they are aggressive and smart predators, often hunting in packs, and usually live in very pretty places,” says Redmap verifying scientist and IMAS researcher Dr Rick Stuart-Smith.

Clearly a favourite sighting then.

The bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus) above was logged near Perth by Redmap member Radek Dolecki.  

Bluefin trevally live in the clear water coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific usually found offshore or associated with islands. This tropical species is not a regular visitor to temperate waters and is not usually found in habitats like in this sighting north of Perth. 

“So it's a very unusual sighting of an amazing fish,” Rick says.

5. Try to look at this photo and NOT smile. Go on… 

“Redmap is as much about our members as their marine sightings,” says Redmap communications officer Yvette Barry. “And this is one very happy Redmap member!” 

Andrew Boughton, pictured above, caught a red emperor (Lutjanus sebae) off the Gold Coast in Queensland. This fish is within its usual home range -- but it was worth adding as a favourite sighting just to showcase that emperor of a grin! 

Redmap asks for red emperor sightings anywhere in New South Wales and south of Shark Bay, Western Australia.

6. On holidays down south?

The Indo-Pacific sergeant (Abudefduf vaigensis) is a favourite of Redmap WA’s Dr Gary Jackson from the Western Australian Department of Fisheries.  Gary became fond of this fish species after swimming with them in Bali. 

Redmap member Kate Wolny photographed the sighting pictured above near Yallingup, west of Busselton WA - quite far from its preferred tropical waters! 

“It might be the furthest south this species has ever been sighted,” says Gary.  “Abudefduf species have been regularly spotted around Rottnest and further south of Perth particularly since the marine heatwave in 2010/2011.  They come down from places further north - like the Houtman Abrolhos islands - as eggs and larvae transported on the Leeuwin Current.”

7. The amberjack that excited fishers

Online fishing forums were abuzz over this amberjack (Seriola dumerili) photo by Ron Walker in northeast Tasmania. 

“It was the only verified record of this species in Tasmania,” explains Redmap coordinator Dr Jemina Stuart-Smith, “and over 200km south of previous reports.”  

It became Jemina’s favourite Redmap sighting after she seized the opportunity to work with the world’s leading expert in Carangids [the amberjack’s fish family] over at the Florida Museum of Natural History to correctly identify the fish. 

8. Most southern sighting of a blue angelfish

This sighting of a blue angelfish (Pomacanthus semicirculatus) is both beautiful and special – and another favourite of the Redmap Team. 

It was photographed by diver Alexandra Hoschke south of Perth, WA, which is a fair way from its usual marine postcode above the Houtman Abrolhos islands (north of Geraldton).

“This is the first record of this species south of the Houtman Abrolhos that I know of,” says Redmap verifying scientist Glenn Moore from the WA Museum.

Redmap extends a warm thank you to the hundreds of people who log sightings on the Redmap app and website. More community observations like the top 8 sightings above will help track if warmer-water fish are surviving further south over time (especially over the cooler winter months) or whether they are just transient visitors into a region.

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