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High-tech tracking of uncommon, straying fish

by Caroline Kaurila, JCU on 14 Mar 2013
A yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) caught away from its usual range along Tasmania’s east coast and logged on Redmap Scott Johnston
A new website that tracks uncommon fish - thanks to the help of boaters, anglers and divers - is now up and running in Queensland. Redmap, or the Range Extension Database and Mapping project, is a website that invites the community to log on to www.redmap.org.au to share their sightings and photos of marine life that are not usually found at their local fishing, diving and swimming spot.

Redmap’s community data will help track marine animals that are caught or observed outside their usual range.

JCU’s Associate Professor Marcus Sheaves and research officer Martha Brians of the Estuary and Tidal Wetland Ecosystems Research Group at JCU in Townsville are the regional coordinators for the website and want to find out where some marine species are turning up around Queensland.

Ms Brians said anecdotal evidence from fishers and divers had already pointed to some range shifts along the coast.

'We’re hearing about more fish moving away from their usual homes, like the Golden Snapper moving south into southern Queensland waters,' she said.

'As the ‘eyes of the scientists’, boaters, anglers and divers will contribute valuable information to enhance our understanding of how species are responding to long-term environmental changes.'

Ms Brians said Redmap provided a unique opportunity to gather vital information about which species are on the move on a national scale, something that scientists would not be able to do without the help of the community.

Since 2009, Tasmanian fishers and divers have already logged hundreds of sightings on Redmap. This includes more eastern rock lobster, yellowtail kingfish, Maori wrasse and King George whiting spotted further south than their usual home turf.

'Considering some three to four million Aussies go fishing or diving at least once a year, Redmap will tap into the observations of potentially thousands of ‘citizen scientists’.'

The Redmap website encourages members to share photos and anecdotes. It also has information and news on fishing, diving and the marine environment. People can check out and comment on the latest sightings of critters spotted away from their usual marine postcode.

Redmap QLD is led by JCU in collaboration with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) who hosts Redmap Australia.

http://www-public.jcu.edu.au/

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