We recently received this photo from Rob Clarke, along with a message: –

The message read:

“Just in case it is of interest. I picked this up at Normanville this week. South of the jetty.

Regards, Rob Clarke”

Rob had thought that it was (part of) a ‘seahorse’. One of our colleagues suggested that it was (part of) a particular species of pipefish.

We sent the photo on to Ralph Foster, Collection Manager, Ichthyology at the South Australian Museum, who said, “This is the frontal bone (neurocranium) of a fish but it’s not from a pipefish – it’s too large & wrong shape. Hard to know what species it is from the image but possibly one of the whiting species from the shape. Given its size, at almost 9cm, it would be a good sized fish so if it is a whiting then King George Whiting is likely. Other narrow headed fishes such as Snook are also a possibility. Thanks for the thought, Steve, but I have no need of it at the museum.”

Rob Clarke’s response was, “Seriously, thank you for your interest and responses. I well understand the museum’s lack of interest, but I am surprised at the conclusion. I’ve looked at a whiting skull and don’t see the strange, seahorse like protuberances on the nose that this specimen has. I have attached better photos, but I think it will remain a mystery.”

These are the additional photos that Rob sent to us: –

We passed all of the above details with Graham Short, our Overseas Ambassador. After initially thinking otherwise, Graham said, “I agree with Ralph, it’s not a pipefish at all, but most likely a juvenile wrasse species or whiting. The bone structure of the specimen doesn’t conform to what I see in CT scans of a typical pipefish …..”

By Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

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