Australian immigrant spotted on the South Coast.

Congratulations to Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin for his observation of a juvenile magpie perch/magpie morwong (Cheilodactylus nigripes) hiding among paua on the wreck of the Yung Pen, Owhiro Bay, on 14 February (https://inaturalist.nz/observations/9862868). Although the first record of this species from New Zealand waters dates back to 1915, relatively few have been observed since then. A close relative of the more familiar red moki (Cheilodactylus spectabilis) this species is common in southern Australia (South Australia, Victoria, southern NSW) where it inhabits coastal reefs between 1-30 m depth. Almost all reports from New Zealand have been from the west coasts of North and South Islands, from Fiordland to Northland, suggesting they arrived here as larvae that were spawned across the Tasman. Most reports have been of individual fish but in December 2004 I found them to be relatively common along the Abel Tasman coastline in Tasman Bay, occasionally seeing more than one on a dive. Donnacha's observation appears to be the first record of the species from Wellington's South Coast but I stand to be corrected on that.

Posted by clinton clinton, February 15, 2018 01:59

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