A rare grouper from Australia was spotted in Queensland grouper was spotted swimming in New Zealand waters more than 3,000 kilometres from its home turf.
Diving instructor Ben Brodie, a skipper with Paihia Dive was guiding divers around the HMNZS Canterbury wreck when he spotted the rare tropical fish.
“We were just descending down to the bridge area and there he was, poking his head out of the top hatch of the bridge. I instantly recognised it was a grouper of some sort.”
Brodie later found out it was a rare Australian grouper.
To find it, and get a photo of it, was really special. We were pretty stoked with it. Anything that’s a rare visitor is really exciting.”
A marine heatwave started in November, sending summer sea surface temperatures soaring to as much as six degrees Celsius above average in the Tasman Ocean.
The Queensland grouper was protected in 2010. As the biggest reef fish in the world, a Queensland grouper could grow up to three metres long and weigh up to 600 kilograms.
Niwa principal scientist Dr Malcolm Francis, a fisheries biologist, has researched protected species for the Department of Conservation. He expected the Queensland grouper might have been carried along the warm water current running across the Tasman Sea from Australia, via Norfolk Island, and down the East Coast of New Zealand.
Photo credit: Ben Brodie/Paihia Dive