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
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.
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.;
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.