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Volume 71, 1942
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New or Rare Fishes of New Zealand.

[Read before Royal Society of New Zealand (Wellington Branch); June 25th, 1941; received by the Editor, June 6, 1941; issued separately, December, 1941.]

Trachyrincus longirostris (Gunther). Fig. 1.

  • Macrurus longirostris Gunther, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., vol. 2, ser. V, p. 23, 1878.

  • Trachyrhynchus longirostris Gunther, Chall. Rept. Deep Sea Fish., vol. 22, p. 153, pl. XLI, fig. B, 1887; Waite, Rec. Cant. Mus., vol. I, no. I, p. 17, 1907.

General Characters: Snout pointed, produced into long, flattened process; barbel absent or atrophied; mouth horseshoe shaped on lower side of head; body robust, compressed posteriorly; colour white; fin-rays largely fused, approximate counts being: D. 96; A. 91; V. 6; P. 17; Br. 6; (1st and 2nd dorsals almost fused and counted together); L. lat. 50 to last enlarged dorsal scale plate.

Dimensions: Total length, 998 mm.; depth at pectoral origin, 180 mm.; length of head, 298 mm.; snout to dorsal, 345 mm.; snout to anal, 559 mm.; eye to snout, 125 mm.; eye socket, 54 mm.X35 mm.; length of ventral, 45 mm.; length of pectoral, 102 mm.; length of 4th dorsal ray, 42 mm.; length of posterior dorsal rays, 54 mm.

Teeth: Teeth finely villiform in broad bands in each jaw, uniform.

Scales: Moderate and spinigerous, covering body; on head short, serrated; body scales embedded with 5 to 7 spinelets at edge when dry, those below pectoral softer; row of 39 dorsal scale plates bearing strong compressed spines on each side of dorsal fin continuing forward above operculum to point almost equidistant between posterior margin of orbit and pectoral origin; length of dorsal rows of scale plates 377 mm.; row of ventral scale plates on each side of anal reaching back over ¾ total length of fin, commencing about anterior portion of sides of anus; 49 on one side and 53 on other.

Discussion: The type of the species was collected by the H.M.S. Challenger and came from north-east of New Zealand (Station 169), 700 fathoms. In his description of the type, Gunther regards the species as allied to Macrurus trachyrhynchus, but differing in the fact that the spines of rows of scales plates above and below have smooth edges (not denticulated as in M. trachyrhynchus). The genus Trachyrincus has not yet been recognised from Australia.

Our specimen was collected by the Manager of Napier Fish Supplies, having been caught on a line at 40 fathoms, south of Cape Kidnappers. It was presented to Dr. A. G. Clark, Napier, who presented it to this Museum. Reg. No. 801.

Auchenoceros punctatus (Hutton), Ahuru. Fig. 4.

  • 1873. Calloptilum punctatum Hutton, Trans. N.Z. Inst., 5, p. 267, pl. XI.

  • 1911. Auchenoceros punctatus Hutton; Waite, Rec. Cant. Mus., 1, no. 3, p. 185, pl. XXXI, fig. 2; ibid. Phillipps, N.Z. Mar. Dept., Fish Bull., 1, p. 24, 1927.

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Some forty examples of this species measuring from 35 to 66 mm. were taken by Dr. W. R. B. Oliver in November, 1926, washed up on the beach at Ruatoria, near East Cape, New Zealand. They constitute a most interesting series, proving as they do that both Hutton and Waite were correct in their figures of this species, which is quite outstanding in that new fin rays connecting two distinct dorsals appear after the fish has grown to a length of two inches. The contrary usually is the case in fish life. Hutton's type was 4½ in. or 114 mm.; Waite gives one measurement 157 mm. that of the largest described; four other specimens (apart from the above) are in the Museum (Register number 671), three measure 53 mm. and the fourth 114 mm. These latter also are collected by Dr. W. R. B. Oliver and are from north of Cape Kidnappers, November, 1933.

In an example from Ruatoria, 75 mm. long, 1 count D. 1 + 15 + 27; A. 39; V. 2; P. 15; C. 27. Head over five in length of body. Teeth in jaws appear to agree with those of larger fish. In all examples first dorsal ray appears to be placed distinctly further back than that figured by Hutton and Waite, while the ventral rays originate just behind the eye. Larger fish have distinct spines between the two dorsals; but these are not present in small examples. Other fins agree. Position of the first dorsal spine may, of course, be an indication of specific distinction; but in view of the known variation inside the species we regard all as A. punctatus. Register no. of 40 specimens from Ruatoria, 646.

Pteraclis velifer (Pallas), Batfish. Figs. 2 and 3.

  • Coryphaena velifer Pallas, Spicil. Zool., viii, p. 19.

  • Pteraclis velifer; Ogilby, Rec. Aust. Mus., ii, Sept., 1893, p. 65 (New Zealand); ibid., Phillipps, N.Z. Mar. Dept. Fish Bull., 1, 1927, p. 35.

  • Pteraclis (Bentenia) sp.; Whitley, Rec. Aust. Mus., 18, no. 4, 1931, p. 145 (New Zealand).

Four specimens of Pteraclis have arrived at the Dominion Museum in recent years, and unconfirmed records of others taken in the vicinity of Cook Strait have been narrated from time to time. Another, making a fifth record, is known from a photograph taken in May, 1935, at French Pass. This photograph shows well the large ocellated areas on dorsal and anal fins rarely recorded in other specimens.

Descriptive notes on Museum specimens are as follows:—

1. General Characters: Body greatly compressed, deepest in region of pectoral, growing regularly more slender posteriorly; mouth oblique, profile steeply rounded; maxillary reaches to posterior edge of pupil of eye; diameter of eye distinctly less than distance eye to snout and nearly 4·5 in length of head; head just over 6 in total length; teeth present in two rows on both jaws and in patches on the vomer and palatines; five pointed gill rakers on the lower limb of the first gill arch; branchiostegals 7. The original body colour was deep-silver which faded to a whitish-purple. Membranes of dorsal and anal fins were dark with numerous more or less circular spots. Distinctive white bands run backward from 18th dorsal ray and 10th anal ray. *

[Footnote] * These bands were noted only in this fish. Spots fade quickly and were omitted in the accompanying plate.

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Dimensions: Total length, 406 mm.; length of head, 66 mm.; depth of body at pectoral origin, 89 mm.; depth of body at caudal peduncle, 13 mm. Register No. 311. Locality, Golden Bay, June, 1920.

Scales: A sheath of very large scales along bases of dorsal and anal; scales on side behind pectoral have raised blunt spine in centre; scales firm, arranged in diamond pattern, small in pectoral region and smaller on head and breast; scales of dorsal sheath 36; scales of anal sheath 54; scales on middle of side between operculum and hypural joint 51.

Fins: D. 3 + 51; A. 3 + 48; P.20; V. 1 + 3. Dorsal and anal fins each very high, 4th dorsal ray being large, stoutly built, compressed, length being approximately 5 in. Dorsal rays increase in length backward from fourth to the fifteenth from the snout and then decrease to caudal region; dorsal originates at tip of snout; ventral originates beneath posterior portion of eye; anal origin behind vent, which is nearly under pre-opercle, breast being very short; longest ventral ray 43 mm.; others short; length of pectoral is 79 mm. or 5·16 in total length.

2. Second specimen received in July, 1920, from Queen Charlotte Sound. In essential respects it agrees well with the previous specimen. Total length is 384 mm.; depth at pectoral origin 81 mm.; length of pectoral 74 mm.; scales in dorsal sheath 57; length of head 64 mm.; membranes of fins unspotted; Register No. 298.

3. Third example from Golden Bay in 1927. Tail is badly broken and body damaged. Maxillary reaches to under centre of eye; ventral originates below posterior portion of eye; single long ventral ray measures 35 mm.; total length approximately 356 mm.; Register No. 499.

4. Fourth specimen from Port Motueka, September, 1933. Condition very poor; 54 to 55 scales in dorsal sheath; pectoral length 71 mm.; depth 711 mm.; total length 330 mm.; Register No. 670.

Discussion: Although I was formerly of the opinion that the New Zealand and Australian species of Pteraclis were new, I now prefer (in view of considerable variation among individuals) to regard all as representatives of a world-wide species, Pteraclis velifer. Whitley (loc. cit.) has also noted differences in two specimens in the Australian Museum. Jordan and Evermann in Fishes of North America, Bull 47, U.S. Nat. Mus., 1896, p. 956, describe P. carolinus, which appears to be very close to our species. A figure as published by Goode and Bean, Ocean Ichth., 1895, fig. 218, has a ventral with relatively short rays; but has not the stout fourth dorsal ray said to characterise that species.

Genus Atahua nov.

Body oblong and compressed; opercle deep with spine of operculum greatly reduced or absent; interorbital space broad, convex; barbels nearly as long as head; body covered with large scales, somewhat ctenoid, extending on to operculum and below eye to its anterior margin; teeth biserial above and below with two small groups far back on palatines. Dorsal and anal fins greatly produced

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backwards. Close to Pseudupeneus * Bleeker, 1862, from Hawaii and tropical Pacific, but differs in having palatine teeth and an unusual development of dorsal and anal fins.

Atahua clarki n.sp. Fig. 5.

General characters: D. 7 + 9; C. 3 + 14 + 3; A. 7; P. 15; V. 1 + 5; lat. 30. Back slightly elevated, profile in straight line from snout to occiput, then rounded to 1st dorsal from whence it descends in straight line to caudal; ventral outline rounded; interorbital space broad and convex; eye moderate, its diameter being 2·6 in distance eye to snout; length of head 4·6 in total length and equal to height of body at pectoral origin; 13 gill rakers on anterior arch; lateral line follows curve of back, 19 scales with pores and 3 to 5 branches above and below, branches minute posteriorly.

Dimensions: Total length 336 mm.; head 76 mm.; barbels 61 mm.; snout to pectoral origin 82 mm.; length of ventral, 57 mm.; length of 8th ray of 2nd dorsal 70 mm.; last anal ray 47 mm.; snout to anal 181 mm.; depth at 1st dorsal origin (approx.) 82 mm.; depth at caudal peduncle 27 mm.

Fins: Dorsal commences behind pectoral origin and above 4th scale of lateral line; distance between 1st and 2nd dorsal slightly less than height of caudal peduncle; last four rays of 2nd dorsal unusually long, reaching back to base of caudal; caudal moderately forked, lobes equal, with rounded margins; anal commencing beneath 4th ray of 2nd dorsal, its last ray reaching back almost to caudal base; pectoral origin below and behind opercular margin, its length equal to last rays of anal; ventral origin in advance of pectoral, length of spinous ray being greater than pectoral length.

Colour: Dr. A. G. Clark, who secured this specimen from Napier fishermen, informs me that when first caught colour was crimson. When it arrived in this Museum it still presented a striking appearance. Much bright-orange and red was present on fins and greenish tinges were seen on head. In addition, there were 3 to 4 greenish-yellow striations running obliquely forwards from eyes to lips, and 3 interorbital greenish bands as well as numerous papillae on snout. Eye has pupil black, iris transparent, reddish with narrow golden ring round pupil. This species was taken in Hawke Bay in March, 1941. Register No. 802.

Luvarus imperialis Rafinesque.

Luvarus imperialis Rafinesque, Caratteri, p. 22, 1810, ibid., Waite, Rec. Cantab. Mus., vol. 2, p. 20, pl. 6, 1913; ibid., Griffin, N.Z. Journ. Sci. and Tech., 4, 318, 1922; ibid., Whitley, Rec. Aust. Mus., vol. 20, no. 5, 1940.

In October, 1932, I received from R. H. Gridley, Blenheim, a short description, together with a photograph of a fish which he had caught on September 10, 1932, at Port Underwood. After study of these I had no doubt that he had secured a specimen of the rare Luvaru or Silver King. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure the fish for the Museum; but the following descriptive note may be of interest: “Total length 838 mm. or 33 in.; weight 24 lb.; skin smooth and shiny with bluish tinge in places, mouth small; teeth

[Footnote] * Pseudupencus was possibly originally a misprint for Pseudopeneus.

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Fig. 1—Trachyrincus longirostris Gunther. Cape Kidnappers.
Fig. 2—Pteraclis velifer (Pallas). Golden Bay.

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Fig. 3—Pteraclis velifer (Pallas), unique photograph showing large ocellated spots on dorsal and anal fins. French Pass. May, 1935.
Fig. 4—Auchenoceros punctatus (Hutton). Ruatoria.—B. Osborne del.
Fig. 5—Atahua clarki n.sp. Hawke Bay.
Fig. 6—Ranzania laevis (Pennant). Waikanae.

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missing. Dorsal spines, caudal and pectoral fins pink with almost black membrane between rays.” This is the most southerly record of this fish yet made. Mr Gridley writes: “I caught it in some kelp, where it seemed unable to dive to any depth. When first caught by the tail it pulled away and dived to a depth of about six feet. It then returned to the surface, when I managed to get in into the dinghy.” Recently Nichols and Helmuth in American Museum Novitates, No. 1085, October, 1940, recorded a large Luvarus discovered floundering in the surf near Georgica, East Hampton, N.Y. It measured 676 mm. or 66 in. from snout to end of caudal peduncle and is said to have weighed about 210 lb. The above-mentioned authors state: Luvarus would seem to be a highly-special-ized derivative of mackerel-like fishes, probably of considerable speed, swimming in the middle depths, feeding on small creatures, but just how it fits such an environment is a mystery.

Ranzania laevis (Pennant). Fig. 6.

  • Ostracion laevis Pennant, Brit. Zool., iii, ed. 4, p. 129, pl. XIX, fig. 34, 1776.

  • Tetrodon truncatus Retzius, K. Vet. Ac. Nya. Handl., VI, p. 121, 1785.

  • Ranzania makua Jenkins, Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. (2), V, p. 779, 1895; ibid., Jordan and Evermnann, Fishes of Hawaii, Bull. U.S. Fish Comm., 23, p. 440, 1905.

  • Ranzania laevis (Pennant); Whiteley, Victorian Naturalist, 49, p. 211, figs. 6 and 7, 1933; ibid., Whitley, Rec. Aust. Mus., vol. 19, no. 1, p. 108, 1933.

Two specimens of this rare fish have recently been presented to the Dominion Museum. The first is from the Kermadec Islands and presented by Mr. H. Lukins, 20th July, 1940, and the second, unfortunately damaged by birds, is from Waikanae Beach, presented by Mr. A. Daniel, 21st May, 1941. As this species has not previously been recorded in the New Zealand area, this constitutes a relatively important record. Descriptive notes on the Waikanae specimen are as follows:—

General Characters: The body oblong, much compressed, with surface smooth and divided into small hexagonal areas concealed by silvery covering; caudal truncate; mouth very small, terminal; gill opening in front of upper pectoral base and covered with valve. Colour silvery, with upper surface darker, two deep silvery bands in front of eye sweeping backwards to ventral surface and similar band below eye; some 15 large round silver spots, irregularly placed, situated between posterior pectoral margin and caudal base. Total length 374 mm.; length of head, 142 mm.; depth of operculum 149 mm.; at posterior margin of pectoral 152 mm.; at dorsal origin 129 mm. D. 15, length of posterior margin 89 mm.; A. 18, length of posterior margin 84 mm.; C. 19, length of caudal base 104 mm.; P. 14, fourth pectoral ray longest, being 66 mm. Eye socket nearer snout than gill opening, distance anterior margin of orbit to snout being 53 mm.; head 2·62 in total length: depth at posterior pectoral margin being 2·46 in same. Register No. 812.

The Kermadec Island specimen agrees well with the above description, save that it is smaller and more slender. Descriptive notes are: D. 15; C. 19; A. 18; P. 14. Total length 343 mm.; greatest width in pectoral region 123 mm.; length of head 127 mm.;

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diameter of orbit 19 mm.; depth is 2·8 in total length and length of head 2·7 in same. Back is bluish-black, merging to silver on sides and below; some twelve irregular vernaculations reach to ventral surface, posterior bands being greenish; first band commences on snout and second over eye. Register No. 790.

Discussion: Jordan and Everman (loc. cit.) regard R. makua as differing from R. truncata in the smaller eye placed well above the mouth and above the axis of the body, in the high position of the pectoral, in the higher dorsal and anal, and in the coloration. Our specimens appear to agree well with makua; but in the meantime I follow Whitley, who recently has reviewed the various Pacific forms and noted considerable variation.

The form of the young is remarkable for its lack of resemblance to the adult and originally was described by Richardson in Voy. Ereb. and Terr., Fish, 1845, p. 52, pl. 20, sketches being by Dr. Hooker. The body is protected by a series of very large frontal, lateral and posterior spines and the eyes greatly enlarged, diameter being about ¼ the length of body. The oblong sunfish is rare wherever it is found, its appearance at Honolulu being regarded by the natives as the visit of a fish god aneestor of mackerels and bontitos which must not be molested.