Fish Section staff have been to some pretty interesting places in their quest to learn more about the fish fauna of Australia and beyond.

Trips range in length from a day up to six weeks and cover localities as close to home as Sydney Harbour, or as far afield as French Polynesia, Vanuatu or Madagascar.

The majority of the fishes are collected for research purposes but occassionally specimens are collected as part of commercial work, or for use in the preparation of the Museum's exhibitions. All specimens collected are entered into the collection database and incorporated into the research collection. Specimens in the collection are used in research programs by scientists in many countries around the world.


Expedition timeline

  • Lord Howe Island

  • Oxley Wild Rivers National Park (Bush Blitz).

    For two weeks in November 2015 Mark McGrouther participated in the Bush Blitz survey in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

    This rugged region, south-east of Armidale, New South Wales was particularly difficult to sample due to deep gorge-cut terrain. Streams were accessed using 4WDs and helicopter.

    Fish specimens were collected using a backpack electrofisher, seines, gill nets, traps and hook and line.

    Prior to the trip only six species of fishes were known from the park. This number has been increased significantly. Voucher specimens and tissue samples of each species are now lodged in the Australian Museum Ichthyology Collection.

    A report has been submitted to Bush Blitz and is awaiting publication.

  • RV Investigator - Tasmania

  • Southern French Polynesia

    The Southern French Polynesia expedition

    During September and October 2014, museum scientists surveyed the shallow water fishes and marine invertebrates of the Austral and Gambier Island Groups. The expedition is a collaborative effort by the Australian Museum, Auckland Museum and Pew Charitable Trusts.

  • Lake Illawarra

    Amanda, Mark, Matt and Sally joined the team from the Marine Invertebrates Department for 3 days of fieldwork in the Lake Illawarra region near Port Kembla, New South Wales.

    Collecting sites in marine, brackish and freshwaters were sampled. Specimens from most samples were photographed and all will be incorporated into the ichthyology collection.

    The region was targeted for survey because, surprisingly, the collection (and database) contained few records from the area.

  • Timor Leste

  • Lizard Island

  • Kermadec Islands, New Zealand

  • Bendalong, New South Wales

    Bendalong, New South Wales

  • Ulladulla, New South Wales

    Ulladulla, New South Wales

  • Caves Beach, New South Wales

    Caves Beach, New South Wales

  • Tathra, New South Wales

    Tathra, New South Wales

  • Central Coast New South Wales

    For three days in early May 2007, staff of the Fish Department conducted joint fieldwork with Marine Invertebrates staff around Umina on the central New South Wales coast.

    We collected fishes at six locations under a permit issued by NSW DPI Fisheries. The specimens have now been incorporated into the fish collection and have helped to improve our knowledge of the fishes of the New South Wales coast.

    One of the interesting finds was a specimen of a new species of scorpionfish that is currently being described by Australian Museum Research Associate, Dr Hiroyuki Motomura.

    The specimens are now registered in the Fish Collection and available via loans to researchers worldwide.

  • NORFANZ, Tasman Sea

    For four weeks during May and June 2003, Australian Museum staff members Mark McGrouther, John Paxton and Kerryn Parkinson participated in the joint New Zealand and Australia Norfolk Ridge - Lord Howe Rise Biodiversity Voyage (NORFANZ).

    Over 20 scientists from Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA worked together to survey the fish and marine invertebrate faunas of seamounts along the two major submarine mountain ranges in the Tasman Sea.

    Over 150 trawls were made at depths down to 2000 m to collect specimens from these poorly known areas. A large number of new species were collected, but without question the most famous find was 'Mr Blobby'.

  • North East.New South Wales (Nov - Dec)

    Following on from the success of the fieldtrip to north-eastern New South Wales in March 2002, a second trip to the region was conducted from 29 November to 13 December 2002.

    Fishes were collected from 49 sites (10 marine, 15 estuarine and 24 freshwater). Some of the interesting finds included several new records for New South Wales (view details).

    Trip participants included Tony Gill (Arizona State University) and Australian Museum staff and volunteers Pascal Geraghty, Mark McGrouther, Natasha Parkin, and John Pogonoski.

    The fishes are now registered in the Fish Collection and are available for loan to researchers worldwide. The data has been entered into the fish database and can now be used to aid in management decisions and for environmental assessments.

  • North East New South Wales (March)

    For two weeks in March, staff of the Fish Section and volunteers joined forces with Tony Gill of the Natural History Museum, London to sample marine, estuarine and freshwater areas on the north coast of New South Wales.

    We made 37 collection stations, which are yielding some interesting surprises including new records for New South Wales and a possible new species (view details below).

    The collections have been registered into the research collection. We now have a better understanding of the fish fauna of northern coastal New South Wales. The specimens are available via loans to researchers worldwide.

    A second trip to the area was conducted in November - December 2002.

    The following fishes were of particular interest.

    Apogonichthys ocellatus - new record for NSW (southern range extension)

    Bathygobius laddi - new record for NSW (southern range extension)

    Bathygobius meggitti - new record for NSW (southern range extension)

    Callogobius depressus - northern range extension for AMS collection

    Grammistes sexlineatus - new mainland NSW record

    Lutjanus rivulatus - new record for NSW (southern range extension)

    Matsubarichthys inusitatus - new record for NSW (second known specimen)

    Micrognathus andersonii- new record for NSW (southern range extension)

    Myrichthys maculosus - southern mainland range extension

    Nannocampus pictus - new record for NSW (southern range extension)

    Pomacentrus bankanensis - first AMS database record for NSW

    Priolepis inhaca - new record for NSW (southern range extension)

    Pseudamia gelatinosa - second NSW record

    Redigobius bikolanus - second NSW specimen

    Retropinna sp. - potential new species

    Spratelloides gracilis - southern mainland range extension

    Valenciennea longipinnis - southern range extension for AMS collection

    Xiphophorus helleri - new introduced fish record for NSW

  • Sydney Ports sampling project

    Sydney Ports sampling project

  • Philippine Islands

    For five weeks during May and June 2000, Mark McGrouther and Kerryn Parkinson (Australian Museum), joined Jeff Williams and Jerry Finan (Smithsonian Institution), Mark Westneat and Jeff Janovetz (Field Museum, Chicago) and Kent Carpenter (Old Dominion University, Norfolk) on a survey of the marine fishes of Mindoro Island (Philippines).

    We worked closely with the staff of the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), notably Mudjie Santos, Leony Mijares Luz Regis and Alex Biasbas, and Arvin Dantis from the University of the Philippines (UP).

    The trip began with several weeks working near Sabang Beach in northern Mindoro, followed by a circumnavigation of the island, during which we lived aboard the MV Mary Chris and the MV Michelle & Mikie Jnr. Our aim was to collect as many species of fishes from the region as possible, and submit a species list to our colleagues at BFAR and UP. This list could then be used to help make informed fisheries management and research decisions.

    During the trip we recorded over 700 species of fishes. Most of these were photographed and tissue samples were taken from many species. These tissue samples will be used in genetic research. Part of this unique collection is now held in the Australian Museum Fish Collection.

  • Solomon Islands

    In September / October 1998, Dianne Bray and Mark McGrouther of the Australian Museum, joined Jeff Williams, Jerry Finan and Cheryl Thacker from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Mark Westneat and Brad Wright of the Field Museum in Chicago, Randy Mooi of the Milwaukee Public Museum, and Maxson Tokopia and Leslie Palenga of Solomon Island Fisheries, on a five week trip to survey the fishes of the Santa Cruz Islands, Temotu Province, Solomon Islands.

    We lived aboard the MV Butai, a local vessel which usually carries passengers and cargo between Honiara, the capital, and Lata, the main town in the Temotu Province. During our stay in the Santa Cruz Islands, we worked at the Reef Islands, Duff Islands, Ndendo Island and Santa Cruz Island.

    We aimed to collect as many species of fishes from the region as possible, and to submit a list of small reef fishes of the region to Solomon Islands Fisheries.

    Prior to this trip, the fish fauna of this region had not been surveyed. The majority of specimens were collected by scuba diving in water depths ranging from 0.2 m to 30 m. Part of this unique collection is now held in the Australian Museum's Fish Collection.

  • Sydney Harbour

    The Fish section spent a day in the field collecting fishes in Sydney Harbour in March 1998.

    The dive attracted significant media interest because 43 species of fishes were collected from a single kelp bed in just over one hour of collecting. This goes against the impression many people have of Sydney Harbour as a desolated underwater wasteland.

    Some of the specimens collected were used in the Australian Museum's Biodiversity gallery which opened in September 1998.

  • Cox's River

    Between 1995 and 1998, the Fish Section was involved in a long-term monitoring program of an area of the Coxs River near Lithgow, New South Wales.

    The sampling was undertaken using a variety of collecting methods. The image shows one of them. The backpack electrofisher sends a variable strength electric current through the water between a ‘rattail’ wire (not visible) that trails in the water behind the operator and a ring on the end of a pole. Contractions within the musculature of fishes within the electric field results in fishes swimming towards the end of the pole, where they can be netted. Needless to say, it is vital that the operator (and anyone else in the water) wears waders!

  • Vanuatu (northern half)

    In April/May 1997, Dianne Bray and Mark McGrouther of the Australian Museum, joined Jeff Williams and David Smith from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and Randy Mooi of the Milwaukee Public Museum, on a five week trip to survey the fishes of the northern part of Vanuatu. Just like the trip conducted in 1996, we lived aboard the Vanuatu Fisheries vessel, MV Lewia, ably captained by Kari Cole.

    We aimed to conduct the trip along the same lines as the one run a year before. We wanted to collect as many species of fishes, from as many different habitats as weather and time would allow. Prior to this trip, the fish fauna of Vanuatu's northern coral reefs had been poorly surveyed. The majority of specimens were collected by scuba diving in water depths ranging from 1 to 30 metres. Part of this unique collection is now held in the Australian Museum's extensive Fish Collection.

  • Vanuatu (southern half)

    In May, 1996, Dianne Bray and Mark McGrouther of the Australian Museum, joined Jeff Williams and David Smith from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and Mark Westneat of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, on a five week trip to survey the fishes of the southern part of Vanuatu. We lived aboard the Vanuatu Fisheries vessel, MV Lewia, ably captained by Hendry Taiford, and were accompanied by Vanuatu Fisheries Biologist, Robert Jimmy.

    Prior to this trip, the fish fauna of Vanuatu's coral reefs had been poorly surveyed and our aim was to collect as many species, from as many different habitats as weather and time would allow. The majority of specimens were collected by scuba diving in water depths ranging from 1 m to 30 m.

    Part of this unique collection is now held in the Australian Museum Fish Collection.

  • Ongoing Larval studies

    Since January 1995, Dr. Jeffrey Leis assisted by Brooke Carson-Ewart, has been carrying out research on the behavioural capabilities of the larvae of coral reef fishes. The Australian Museum's research station, located on Lizard Island, provides the base for this research. Twice a year, typically Jan-Feb and Nov-Dec, a team of four divers from the Australian Museum travel to the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef in order to observe tiny, recently spawned reef fish in their own environment.

  • Central coastal Queensland. Shoalwater Bay

    Central coastal Queensland. Shoalwater Bay

  • Far North Queensland #2, Outer Barrier Reef

    In Jan - Feb, 1993, staff from the Australian Museum (S. Keable, J. Leis, M. McGrouther, S. Reader and T. Trnski), Northern Territory Museum (H. Larson) and the Field Museum Chicago, (M. Hale and M. Westneat) joined forces to survey a huge and remote area of the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland and the northern Coral Sea. This area north of Raine Island had not previously been systematically collected for museum collections. Eleven people spent three weeks aboard the MV NJoy, resulting in excellent collections of fishes from numerous locations.

    Highlights of the trip include collecting representatives of three undescribed species and about twenty species not previously recorded from Australia. All the fishes now reside in the collections of all three institutions and are in use by ichthyologists all over the world in their research.

  • Osprey Reef

    Osprey Reef (Leis, Paxton, McGrouther, Thomspon, Goldman)

  • Escape Reef

    Escape Reef (Allen, Hoese, Paxton, Bray, Rennis, et. al.)

  • Coastal Queensland, Cook Is. GBR

    Coastal Queensland, Cook Is. GBR (Winterbottom, Hoese)

  • Lizard Island

    Lizard Island Post conference, (Hoese, Larson, Winterbottom)

  • Philippines

    Philippines, (Steene, Hoese, Ferraris, Murdy)

  • Ryukyu Islands

    Ryukyu Islands - (Hoese, Meguro, Hayashi, Sakamoto)

  • Capricorn Group, southern GBR

    Capricorn Group, southern GBR

  • Far North Queensland #1, Outer Barrier Reef

    Far North Queensland #2, Outer Barrier Reef