Blog

Anything in the pots? Baited traps in Southern French Polynesia. Blog 2, retrieving the catch.

By: Dr Stephen Keable, Category: Science, Date: 07 Nov 2014

Apart from use in the seafood industry baited traps (or pots) are also a great way to collect marine specimens for scientific study.

Deck crane bringing in a baited trap

Deck crane bringing in a baited trap
Photographer: Stephen Keable © Australian Museum

In remote French Polynesia I've just set some traps with the help of the crew from the RV Braveheart.

Each trap is left out overnight and picked up the next day. The crew help me pull them in by hand or we use the back deck crane of the Braveheart. Given the hard work they’ve done I’m not surprised the crew share my eagerness and anticipation to see what has been collected, I think we also each have a bit of the awe of the unknown and curiosity about what could be lurking in the depths.

Over the course of the trip we’re able collect trap samples from each of the three islands we anchor at overnight. A range of fishes and invertebrates are captured. Eels are particularly conspicuous in the traps (and removing them somewhat reminiscent of Samuel L Jackson in the movie ‘Snakes on a plane’).The first eel collected is identified as the Undulate Moray (Gymnothorax undulatus), at a fraction under 1.2 metres it's close to the maximum length recorded for the species. The notes in the identification guide we have indicate its a particularly agressive species noted for biting.

Find out about the invertebrates collected.