Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 71, 1942
This text is also available in PDF
(1 MB) Opens in new window
– 241 –

[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.

– 242 –

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.

– 243 –

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.