Expedition blogs and news from the Shallow Marine Surveys Group

We’re back on island - this time with a smaller team of twelve

This the second phase of a SMSG/South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) expedition funded by the Darwin Initiative to examine the marine biodiversity of Ascension Island. Our team of 12 started to arrive on the 24th May. Lt.Col. Simon Browning and Sarah Browning arrived first with our freight. Elizabeth Clingham and Judith and Steve Brown arrived from sunny St Helena on the Tuesday 28th. The rest of us arrived on the 31st May from a cold and blustery Falkland Islands.

Jude's Bath

Lt Col. Browning said “Surprise is a principle of war not logistics! With foresight and good planning everything has come together.” However, our start to the survey was not without its problems. Ascension Island’s dive club’s compressor was out of order. We found this out before the Falkland Islands' component departed so we were able to fly up a portable one.

Fish Chopping1

The objective of this ten day survey is to build on the first by targeting the intertidal  quantitatively, revisiting sites surveyed before to examine the community structure of different habitats on temporal scales and to visit sites and areas not surveyed previously. Efforts so far have already yielded a new species record for Ascension Island, a white spotted octopus (Octopus macropus). This species is active at night and is distributed in the east and west Atlantic but is not known from around Ascension Island. Judith Brown said “It is amazing to see the seasonal changes in fish communities, particularly the small recruitment of juvenile endemic Hawkish.” And Paul Brewin exclaimed “It’s awesome to be back”.

Watch this space – we’ll keep you posted on out progress and discoveries.

Paul's Office

The survey team:

  • Dr Paul Brickle (SAERI/SMSG – Expedition Leader)

  • Dr Judith Brown (SMSG/St Helena Government – Dive Officer)

  • Steve Brown (SMSG – Technical Services)

  • Steve Cartwright (SMSG – Technical Services)

  • Dr Martin Collins (SMSG/GSGSSI – Marine Ecologist)

  • Dr Vladimir Laptikhovsky (SMSG/CEFAS - Marine Ecologist)

  • Lt. Col. Simon Browning (SMSG/BFSAI – Logistics/Marine Ecologist)

  • Sarah Browning (SMSG/BFSAI – Marine Ecologist)

  • Dr Alexander Arkhipkin (SMSG/Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department - Sclerochronology)

  • Dr Paul Brewin (SMSG/Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department – Marine Ecologist)

  • Zhanna Shcherbich (SMSG/Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department - Sclerochronology)

  • Elizabeth Clingham (SMSG/St Helena Government – Marine Ecologist)

  • Emily Hancox (SMSG/SAERI - Marine Ecologist)

As always we are extremely grateful to AIG, particularly Collin Wells (Administrator), Hamish Stewart (Director of Resources), Nicola and Sam Webber and the rest of the Conservation team. We are also grateful to Caz Yon for all of her help.
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Ascension Island fish record

During the 3 week survey of Ascension, the Shallow Marine Surveys Group took thousands of images of the marine life around the island. This page represents a photographic record of Ascension Island fish species seen by team members. The images in this post are being added to as the back-catalogue is processed and, when finished, should provide a useful and accurate guide to almost any species of fish life a skin-diver or scuba diver may see during a visit to Ascension Island.


Acanthuridae (surgeonfishes, tangs, and unicornfishes)

[caption id="attachment_1011" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Acanthurus bahianus (ocean surgeonfish) Acanthurus bahianus (ocean surgeonfish)

[caption id="attachment_1012" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Acanthurus bahianus (ocean surgeonfish) Acanthurus bahianus (ocean surgeonfish)

[caption id="attachment_1013" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Acanthurus coeruleus (blue tang) Acanthurus coeruleus (blue tang) - juvenile

[caption id="attachment_1014" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Acanthurus coeruleus (blue tang) Acanthurus coeruleus (blue tang)


Apogonidae (cardinalfishes)

[caption id="attachment_802" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Apogon axillaris (axillary spot cardinalfish)-1621 Apogon axillaris (axillary spot cardinalfish)

[caption id="attachment_801" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Apogon axillaris (axillary spot cardinalfish)-0243 Apogon axillaris (axillary spot cardinalfish)

[caption id="attachment_803" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Apogon pseudomaculatus (twospot cardinalfish)-9074 Apogon pseudomaculatus (twospot cardinalfish) - Image: Peter Wirtz

Aulostomidae (trumpet fish)

[caption id="attachment_804" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Aulostomus strigosus (Atlantic trumpetfish)-1159 Aulostomus strigosus (Atlantic trumpetfish)

[caption id="attachment_805" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Aulostomus strigosus (Atlantic trumpetfish) Aulostomus strigosus (Atlantic trumpetfish) - Image: Peter Wirtz

Balistidae (triggerfish)

[caption id="attachment_1037" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Melichthys niger (black triggerfish) Melichthys niger (black triggerfish)

[caption id="attachment_1038" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Melichthys niger (black triggerfish) Melichthys niger (black triggerfish)

[caption id="attachment_1039" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Balistes vetula (queen triggerfish) Balistes vetula (queen triggerfish)

[caption id="attachment_1040" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Canthidermis maculata (ocean triggerfish) Canthidermis maculata (ocean triggerfish)

Belonidae (needlefish)

[caption id="attachment_806" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Platybelone trachura (needlefish) Platybelone trachura (needlefish)

Bothidae (flounder)

[caption id="attachment_1019" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Bothus lunatus (peacock flounder) Bothus lunatus (peacock flounder)

[caption id="attachment_1020" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Bothus mellissi (St Helena flounder) Bothus mellissi (St Helena flounder)

Chaetodontidae (butterfly fish)

[caption id="attachment_840" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Chaetodon sanctaehelenae (St Helena butterflyfish)-1565 Chaetodon sanctaehelenae (St Helena butterflyfish)

[caption id="attachment_841" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Prognathodes dichrous (hedgehog butterflyfish)-2332 Prognathodes dichrous (hedgehog butterflyfish)

Cirrhitidae (hawkfish)

[caption id="attachment_843" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Amblycirrhitus earnshawi (white hawkfish)-1574 Amblycirrhitus earnshawi (white hawkfish)

[caption id="attachment_844" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Amblycirrhitus earnshawi (white hawkfish)-2590 Amblycirrhitus earnshawi (white hawkfish)

Diodontidae (porcupine fish)

[caption id="attachment_1016" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Diodon holocanthus (porcupine pufferfish) Diodon holocanthus (porcupine pufferfish)

[caption id="attachment_1017" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Diodon hystrix (spotted porcupinefish) Diodon hystrix (spotted porcupinefish)

Gobiidae (gobies)

[caption id="attachment_864" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Gnatholepis thompsoni (Thompsons goby)-1233 Gnatholepis thompsoni (Thompsons goby)

[caption id="attachment_1033" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Priolepis ascensionis (Ascension goby) Priolepis ascensionis (Ascension goby)


Holocentridae (soldierfish,squirrelfish)

[caption id="attachment_807" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Holocentrus adscensionis (squirrelfish)-1135 Holocentrus adscensionis (squirrelfish)

[caption id="attachment_808" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Holocentrus adscensionis (squirrelfish)-1000715 Holocentrus adscensionis (squirrelfish) - may be found in large schools.

[caption id="attachment_810" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Myripristis jacobus (blackbar soldierfish)-2275 Myripristis jacobus (blackbar soldierfish)

[caption id="attachment_809" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Myripristis jacobus (blackbar soldierfish)-1405 Myripristis jacobus (blackbar soldierfish)

Kyphosidae (sea chub)

[caption id="attachment_838" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Kyphosus sectatrix (sea chub)-2544 Kyphosus sectatrix (sea chub)

Labridae (wrasse)

[caption id="attachment_790" align="aligncenter" width="584"]20120827-DSC_1406 Thallasoma ascensionis (Ascension wrasse)

[caption id="attachment_792" align="aligncenter" width="584"]20120831-DSC_2123 Thallasoma ascensionis (Ascension wrasse) - juvenile

[caption id="attachment_1022" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Thalassoma ascensionis (Ascension wrasse) Thallasoma ascensionis (Ascension wrasse)

[caption id="attachment_1023" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Bodianus insularis (island hogfish) Bodianus insularis (island hogfish)

[caption id="attachment_785" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Bodianus insularis Bodianus insularis (island hogfish)

[caption id="attachment_1027" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Xyrichtys blanchardi (Blanchard's cleaver wrasse) Xyrichtys blanchardi (Blanchard's cleaver wrasse)

[caption id="attachment_1028" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Xyrichtys blanchardi (Blanchar's cleaver wrasse) Xyrichtys blanchardi (Blanchard's cleaver wrasse)

[caption id="attachment_1029" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Thalassoma sanctaehelenae (yellow razorfish) Thalassoma sanctaehelenae (yellow razorfish)

[caption id="attachment_789" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Xyrichtys novacula (marmalade razorfish) Xyrichtys novacula (marmalade razorfish)

Malacanthidae (tilefish)

[caption id="attachment_1031" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Malacanthus plumieri (sand tilefish) Malacanthus plumieri (sand tilefish)

Monacanthidae (filefish)

[caption id="attachment_846" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Aluterus scriptus (scrawled filefish)-1523 Aluterus scriptus (scrawled filefish)

[caption id="attachment_847" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Aluterus scriptus (scrawled filefish)-1010203 Aluterus scriptus (scrawled filefish)

[caption id="attachment_848" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Cantherhines macrocerus (whitespotted filefish)-5473 Cantherhines macrocerus (whitespotted filefish)

Mugilidae (mullet)

[caption id="attachment_813" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Mugil curvidens (dwarf mullet)-1010157 Mugil curvidens (dwarf mullet)

[caption id="attachment_812" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Mugil curvidens (dwarf mullet)-4999 Mugil curvidens (dwarf mullet)

Mullidae (goatfish)

[caption id="attachment_1007" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Mulloidichthys martinucus (yellow goatfish) Mulloidichthys martinucus (yellow goatfish)

[caption id="attachment_1008" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Mulloidichthys martinucus (yellow goatfish)-1550 Mulloidichthys martinucus (yellow goatfish)

[caption id="attachment_1009" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Mulloidichthys martinucus (yellow goatfish)-2629 Mulloidichthys martinucus (yellow goatfish)

Muraenidae (morays)

Ascension moray gallery here

Ophichthidae (snake eels)

[caption id="attachment_814" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Quassiremus ascensionis (black spotted snake eel)-0920 Quassiremus ascensionis (black spotted snake eel)

Pomacanthidae (angelfish)

[caption id="attachment_850" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Pomacanthus paru (french angelfish)-2392 Pomacanthus paru (french angelfish)

[caption id="attachment_531" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Pomacanthus paru (french angelfish Pomacanthus paru (french angelfish)

Ostraciidae (cowfish)

[caption id="attachment_859" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Acanthostracion notacanthus- (island cowfish)-1630 Acanthostracion notacanthus (island cowfish)

[caption id="attachment_860" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Acanthostracion notacanthus- (island cowfish)-1914 Acanthostracion notacanthus (island cowfish)

Pomacentridae (damselfish)

[caption id="attachment_855" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Abudefduf saxatilis (sergeant major)-1092 Abudefduf saxatilis (sergeant major)

[caption id="attachment_856" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Chromis multilineata (Apollo damselfish)-1816 Chromis multilineata (Apollo damselfish)

[caption id="attachment_857" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Stegastes lubbocki (Lubbocks damselfish)-2073 Stegastes lubbocki (Lubbocks damselfish)

Priacanthidae (bigeyes)

[caption id="attachment_815" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Heteropriacanthus cruentatus (glasseye)-1127 Heteropriacanthus cruentatus (glasseye)

Scorpaenidae (scorpionfish)

[caption id="attachment_818" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Scorpaenodes insularis (red scorpionfish)-1666 Scorpaenodes insularis (red scorpionfish)

[caption id="attachment_817" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Scorpaena plumieri (spotted scorpionfish)-9556 Scorpaena plumieri (spotted scorpionfish)

[caption id="attachment_816" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Scorpaena plumieri (spotted scorpionfish)-2637 Scorpaena plumieri (spotted scorpionfish)

Serranidae (groupers)

[caption id="attachment_825" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Rypticus saponaceus (greater soapfish)-8594 Rypticus saponaceus (greater soapfish) - Image: Peter Wirtz

[caption id="attachment_824" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Rypticus saponaceus (greater soapfish)-2236 Rypticus saponaceus (greater soapfish)

[caption id="attachment_823" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Paranthias furcifer (creolefish)-9147 Paranthias furcifer (creolefish) - Image: Peter Wirtz

[caption id="attachment_822" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Paranthias furcifer (creolefish)-2646 Paranthias furcifer (creolefish)

[caption id="attachment_821" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Paranthias furcifer (creolefish)-0172 Paranthias furcifer (creolefish)

[caption id="attachment_820" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Epinephelus adscensionis (rock hind)-1116 Epinephelus adscensionis (rock hind)

[caption id="attachment_819" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Epinephelus adscensionis (rock hind)-1004 Epinephelus adscensionis (rock hind) - juvenile

Synodontidae (lizardfish)

[caption id="attachment_827" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Synodus synodus (diamond lizardfish)-2588 Synodus synodus (diamond lizardfish)

[caption id="attachment_826" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Synodus synodus (diamond lizardfish)-0877 Synodus synodus (diamond lizardfish)

Tetraodontidae (pufferfish)

[caption id="attachment_862" align="aligncenter" width="584"]Canthigaster sanctaehelenae (St Helena pufferfish)-0816 Canthigaster sanctaehelenae (St Helena pufferfish)

To be added:

Carangidae (jacks)

Lutjanidae (snappers)

Tripterygiidae (triple fin blennies)

Blenniidae (blennies)

Callionymidae (dragonet)

Sphyraenidae (barracuda)

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Latest Comments

Dave John Hunting seaweeds around Ascension
31 August 2013
Great to see underwater photos of this very unusual submarine environment where the ubiquitous black...
Helen Marsh Team Member Stedson Stroud
03 July 2013
Great to hear more about Stedsons work, and how he got started, having met him on Ascension Island l...
Simon Plummer Volunteer Ecological Surveyors
10 June 2013
I can’t stop smiling thinking of what a brilliant time you are having. The fact that I can visualise...
Simon Plummer Black triggerfish anecdotes
10 June 2013
An enjoyable and funny read, thank you steve for making me chuckle.
Simon Plummer Ascension Island fish record
10 June 2013
The photos are brilliant, envious.


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