Marine Fishes new to New Zealand; including the Description of a new species of Halieutaea
[Read before the Auckland Institute, November 18, 1936; received by the Editor, December 1, 1936; issued separately, June, 1937.]
Three additions to the New Zealand fish fauna are made herein. One is a new species, and all three are the first of their respective genera to be recorded from these waters. Of particular interest are the two occurrences of the smooth sunfish, Ranzania makua, an essentially tropical species. Two further records of a fourth species, Neo|thunnus itosibi are of interest as only one previous New Zealand occurrence is on record.
Genus Neothunnus Kishinouye 1923.
Neothunnus itosibi Jordan and Evermann.
1926. Occasional Papers, Calif. Acad. Sciences, no. 12, p. 22, pl. 16.
This scarce Hawaiian species may be added to the New Zealand faunal list, as two local occurrences of this fish are known to the writer. Particulars of the New Zealand specimens are as follows:—
Whangaruru Harbour, 15th February, 1930. Caught by Mr. W. M. Fraser. The specimen had a total length of 5 feet 8 inches and weighed about 180lb. (See Phillipps, N. Z. Journ. Sci. and Tech., vol. 13, p. 231).
Off Ruahine Reef, Whangaroa, 25th February, 1935. Line-caught by Mr. Stanley Ellis. The specimen has a total length of 6 feet 2 inches, and weighed 187lb. A cast of this specimen (here figured) is displayed in the Auckland Museum.
Stranded at Tokomaru Bay, 31st July, 1936. Caught by Mr. P. Western, of Tokomaru Bay. Mr. G. F. Forbes kindly supplied a photograph and the following particulars: The specimen had a total length of 5 feet 5 inches, a girth of 3 feet 1 inch, and weighed 112lb. Finlets brilliant yellow: long curved dorsal and anal fins slightly yellow.
All three New Zealand specimens have the extra long dorsal and anal fins so characteristic of itosibi. In the Whangaroa specimen the anal fin was broken and frayed, its original length being indicated by a reconstructed outline shown in the photograph. I agree with Phillipps (loccit.) that itosibi is not a synonym of Germo albacores from Jamaica as stated by Fowler (Mem. Bishop Mus., vol. 10, p. 134; 1928).
The type specimen of itosibi from Honolulu weighed 321lb., but measurements were not given by its authors. Their description, which fits the New Zealand examples very well, is as follows:—
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“Body rather slender, the depth 4 ½ in length to base of caudal; head 4, as long as pectoral, which does not quite reach front ray of short dorsal; finlets 9/8 dorsal lobe half or more longer than
pectoral, about reaching base of caudal; anal lobe usually (but not always being easily broken) longer than dorsal lobe. Colours, dusky blue, sides silvery, without evident markings; finlets higher than in N. macropterus and very bright yellow, brighter than in any other species.”
Genus Fistularia Linn. 1758. Syst. Nat., Ed. 10, p. 312.
Fistularia of. petimba Lacépède 1803.
1803. Fistularia petimba Lacépède, H. N. Poiss. v, p. 349.
1880. F. serrata Gunther, Chall. Zool., 1, p. 68, pl. 32, fig. C. = snout.
1876. F. serrata Day, Fish. India, p. 360, pl. 76, 3.
A specimen 46.6 cm. (snout to hypural) in length was trawled in June, 1936, in 40 fathoms off Cuvier Island and was presented to the Auckland Museum by Messrs. Sanfords Ltd. My identification is based upon McCulloch's drawing in his Check List of the Fish and Fish-like Animals of New South Wales, pl. 9, fig. 89a. Mr. Gilbert P. Whitley, of the Australian Museum, Sydney, informs me that the systematics of this genus is at present unsatisfactory and that he hopes to revise the group at a later date. Meanwhile, I record this addition to our fauna, the species appearing to be identical with the New South Wales fish known as F. petimba.
The New Zealand specimen has an unusual feature in an extra tail filament, 20 mm. long, situated below the normal filament, which is 188 mm. in length. Mr. Whitley states that although unusual this extra tail filament occurs occasionally in New South Wales specimens. The specimen is preserved in the Auckland Museum reference collection (Ps. 428.1).
Genus Halieutaea Cuvier and Valenciennes 1837.
Holotype: Halieutaea stellata Cuv. and Val. 1837.
Halieutaea maoria n.sp.
D.4; A.4; P.14; V.5; C.9. Length of cephalic disc from the tip of the snout to the level of its junction with the pectoral fins, 1.39 in the total length (from the snout to the hypural); its breadth is greater than its length, and is 1.19 in the total length. Tail, from vent. to hypural, 3.02 in the total length; its greatest breadth is 1.76 its own length. Length of head from the snout to the gill openings, 1.78 in the total length. Interorbital space a little less than the length of the eye, which is 6.78 in the head. Width of the mouth including tips of the maxillary bones, 2.52 in the width of the head. Depth of the body at the ventrals 4.9 in the width of the head.
Colour: Upper surface pale brownish drab, changing towards the middle to pale Payne's grey. There are irregular patches of vinaceous tawny and a reticulate pattern of sepia. Spines white to glassy. Under surface uniform geranium-pink, ventral fins deeper. Pectoral fins dull rose-pink. Caudal fin pale grey, sooty at tip. Upper surface of the cephalic disc sparsely studded with sharp erect spines, each with four ridges radiating from its base. Marginal spines with four radiating points, these number 17 from the snout
to the ventral on either side. Three strong spines on the snout form a deep triangular cavity in which the small trilobed rostral tentacle is situated. Tail spines similar to those on the disc. Surface between the spiny processes crowded with tiny spicules. Under surface without spine, but crowded with tiny spicules. Jaws with bands of minute villiform teeth.
Dimensions: 157 mm. from snout to hypural joint; breadth, 134 mm.; thickness, 27 mm. (holotype).
Locality: Trawled off White Island, Bay of Plenty (30–40 fathoms?). Presented to the Auckland Museum by Messrs. Sanfords, Ltd., 3/8/35. *
Holotype: Ps. 427.1 in the Auckland Museum.
This New Zealand species, the first of its genus to be found here, is nearest allied to Ogilby's H. brevicauda from 36 miles N. 12° E. of Cape Moreton, Queensland, in 73 fathoms. (See McCulloch, Biol. Res. Endeavour 2, 3, p. 163, pl. 33; 1914.)
The New Zealand species closely resembles the Queensland one in general proportions and number of fin rays, but differs in having far fewer and much stronger spiny processes on the upper surface.
Genus Ranzania Nardo 1840.
Ranzania makua Jenkins 1895.
1895. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sciences, ser. 2, 5, pp. 780–784.
New Zealand records of this, the Pacific smooth sun-fish, are based upon two juvenile specimens, one of which is figured and is now preserved in the Auckland Museum (Ps. 426.1). This specimen, although only 10½ inches in length, is almost certainly the young of the above species. Its weight was 1lb. 2½ oz., and it was caught in shallow water at the Bay of Islands on April 11, 1936, by a lad, Robert Morris. A curious coincidence was the following account of a second specimen, which appeared in the Auckland “Star” on April 27, 1936:—“A rare fish, known as a smooth sun-fish or “king of the mackerels,” was found alive on the beach at Mayor Island recently by a Maori. It was brought to Tauranga and placed in a freezer and a plaster cast of it is now being made. The fish is 12 inches long and weighs 1lb. 6oz. It has a very short body with the fins at one end. It is of the same species as a fish recently secured at the Bay of Islands.”
In a note on South African occurrences of the closely-allied Ranzania truncata (published in Nature, vol. 135, no. 3414, p. 548, April 6, 1935) E. W. Gudger expressed surprise that a sun-fish of this genus should occur in waters as temperate as those of 34° S. He states that Ranzania is an inhabitant of warm seas, and that South Africa was very far south for it.
The New Zealand specimens are from localities still further south, 35° and 37° respectively.
[Footnote] * A second specimen, much smaller (110 mm. snout to hypural by 95 mm. breadth) was trawled in February, 1937. by Captain R. Jennings from about 30 fathoms off Taranga, Hen and Chickens Islands.