Blue Groper sightings

Author
by Blair
Publish date
1 March 2011
Comments
Comments (9)

Just like Melbourne loves to steal big sporting events, musicals and exhibitions from other Australian capital cities, now it seems we'd also steal a big fish!

For years I have been sitting in my office in the marine biology area of the museum discretely listening in to my office buddy’s phone calls. There is always something going on but this past week things have gotten more interesting than usual.

“...Another one? ... Where this time? ... Did they give you a photo?... Wow-ee!”

Apparently there have been a number of sightings of Blue Gropers in waters in and around Port Phillip Bay. Once a popular target for spearfishers in the mid 1900s, they are now considered one of the more elusive fish in our waters.

Eastern Blue Groper Eastern Blue Groper, Achoerodus viridis.
Image: Saspotato
Source: Used under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 from Saspotato
 

We are thought to have only the Eastern Blue Groper in Victoria (Achoerodus viridis), but that is where the mystery widens.

If the western sightings turn out to be the Western Blue Groper (Achoerodus gouldii), then that would be exciting, because even though some guide books list the species in western Victoria, the museum has no verified records that I could find. Effectively, it would be the first offical indication that we have of the Western Blue Groper extending its range from Western Australia and South Australia into Victorian waters.

Being passionate about all things mariney, I have listened to these recent phone calls more keenly than most because regardless of the exact species, Eastern or Western, they suggest that this iconic giant is back in significant numbers. Perhaps this means marine parks and sanctuaries are helping blue groper populations to increase.

Anyway, I’m heading out next weekend to get wet and see if I can further fuel the enthusiasm in here. Join me and get diving or snorkelling, if you see a groper emerge out of the bay haze, snap a photo and help us solve this mystery.

Eastern Blue Groper A male Eastern Blue Groper (Achoerodus viridis) escorted by juvenile Silver Trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex). Shelly Beach, Manly, NSW.
Image: Richard Ling
Source: Used under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 from rling
 

Oh and if you’re interested...

Blue Gropers are large, slow-growing fishes, that reach a metre or thereabouts – gentle giants if you like. They hang around rocky reefs. Funnily enough, their name is misleading because they are not always blue. Sometimes they are green, sometimes grey, sometimes inbetween. They start life as females and turn into males when about half a metre long, about a ten-year wait to manhood. They are more closely related to wrasses and parrotfishes than to the tropical groper commonly seen by divers on reefs in northern Australia. They are now more sought after for viewing on a spectacular dive rather than for dinner. Reef Watch Victoria monitors blue gropers and other marine life along our coasts.

Links:

Australian Museum Eastern Blue Groper video

Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast

Coastlinks Victoria - marine reserves, parks and sanctuaries

Comments (9)

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leahcim 2 April, 2011 18:11
I saw some blue groper myself having never seen them before when I dive. Yet to verify whether they are eastern or western yet. Its good news when species reappear in an area they were once common
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beno 28 March, 2011 13:14
Enough facts were in order for me when this blog was published. I read the bit that said books listed the fish as present in Victoria, and the contrasting bit that the museum had no verified records.
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Sam 27 March, 2011 18:50
The museum has informed me of differences between these fish I was unaware of and inspired me to keep an eye out for them
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Jarod 27 March, 2011 14:03
A good little story based on the information available
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Stu 25 March, 2011 10:43
Anecdotal but interesting
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Diver 23 March, 2011 21:15
Blue Groper are NOT just reappearing along the Victorian coastline, they have been around in good numbers for the last ten years. Get your facts in order before publishing anedoctal discoveries.
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Blair 23 March, 2011 14:15
The purpose of the blog was to solicit comment and investigate anecdotal evidence on these fishes. A positive response from the community came through yesterday and the museum verified its first record of a Western Blue Groper from Victoria.
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Nigz 23 March, 2011 11:59
Absolute rubbish. Where is the scientific backing for this disgrace of an article? I'd like to see Sighting logs please...or any form of objective evidence. Untill then..this article is invalid.
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Kristie 2 March, 2011 13:48
Informative - thanks Blair!
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