Thursday 3rd January 2008
The sun is shining, the sea is flat and we have been back in action since 0500 working the eastern section of the CEAMARC sampling grid.
From the bridge I drink in a rare pristine environment. I see two whales, some Adelie penguins and I am thrilled to glimpse the mighty Mertz one last time. Station 52 takes us to a point around about 17nm from the tip. The horizon is a distant but brilliant white scar with big tabular bergs jagging the horizon.
Harvey Marchant is a marine biologist based at the ANU in Canberra. In front of us is his book ‘Antarctic Fishes’. Harvey says he’s not especially a ‘fish’ man but confirms that he is a trout fishing enthusiast and has an obvious appreciation of nature.
The book happened by serendipity really. Harvey admired a detailed print of a fish hanging on the wall at a friend’s home. His friend gave him a similar one. Harvey wrote to thank the artist who sent another print and so started an appreciation of the specialized Japanese Gyotaku technique of illustration. Harvey and another colleague – also an Antarctic marine biologist, Mitsuo Fukuchi, were on a fishing trip in Tasmania when they came up with the idea of the book.
The three connected and together produced a unique book representing 54 fishes of Antarctica. Fortuitously Mitsuo Fukuchi and Boshu Nagase live in adjacent suburbs in Tokyo.
One side of the open book displays images of astonishingly detailed and beautiful patterned fish. The other carries the details of name and habit, distribution and origin of each fish.
The Japanese Gyotaku technique for illustrating the fish involves putting strengthened paper over a fish, wetting the paper and moulding it to the shape of the fish to make an entirely accurate imprint of it. Tiny sponges called tampo are dipped in coloured inks and dabbed onto the paper over the fish, building colours in layers until the image appears illuminated.
In Hobart a small band of novices, including Harvey, are practicing the art of gyotaku by correspondence. They are the ‘Sardines’, tutored by the master artist Boshu Nagase during his three month visit to Hobart to print some of the fish used in the book. The Sardines are working hard to perfect the rainbow trout. They send their best prints to Japan for critique. But Boshu Nagasi demands perfection and only one Tasmanian Sardine has been permitted to advance from the trout.
Yesterday’s hold up due to weather has allowed a stock take of the Voyage 3 trawl fish harvest.
‘So far, we have caught at least 38 fish species, including 32 Notothenioids, 2 or more Liparids and 4 Zoarcids. The number of species continues to increase every day. Interestingly, many species previously recorded to be common in the depth range 0 - 200 m along the Terre Adelie coast (Trematomus newnesi, Notothenia coriiceps, T. bernacchi, T. hansoni, Pagothenia borchgrevinki, Gymnodraco acuticeps) are rare or absent in our catches. The exceptions are two species, the icefish (Chionodraco hamatus) and the pelagic species, Pleuragramma antarcticum, which were previously found to be common in the shallow coastal areas and are also common at our sites.’
They are fish you can see in Harvey’s book.
“Antarctic Fishes”, illustrated in the gyotaku method by Boshu Nagase, text by Mitsuo Fukuchi and Harvey J. Marchant, published 2006 by Rosenberg Press
Margot Foster is a journalist currently on board the Australian Aurora Australis, an Australian research vessel currently participating in the Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML, IPY project 53). She works with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
What is IPY
Saturday, 05 January 2008 00:07
CAML: A Fish tale...Written by CAML-CEAMARC
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