Two very lost pearl perch showed up at Montague Island off Narooma on Friday morning much to the surprise of charter boat skipper Matt Betts.
The tropical species is not normally found south of Port Macquarie on the Central Coast and nobody can recall catching a pearl perch off Narooma before.
Mr Betts of The Sheriff said he and his clients from Jervis Bay first thing Friday morning were fishing for snapper off the northeast corner of Montague Island using a paternoster rig with fresh slimy mackerel as bait.
They were very surprised to get two pearl perch one after the other, the first being 53cm and the second 37cm – and as the size limit is 30cm, they went straight into the Esky because they are delicious eating.
“These ones weren’t going back,” he said.
He asked around his fellow skippers and deckies including Benny Boulton who have been fishing these waters for years and none had heard of a pearl perch being caught this far south. The water temperature on Friday morning was 21.4 degrees.
This is the latest tropical species to show up in Narooma in recent years. Green sea turtles, threadfin leatherjackets, pantropical spotted dolphins, amberjack are just some of the warm water species who have made appearances.
This year alone, the Merimbula Aquarium has seen a number of extremely rare or unusual species with the arrival of the goblin shark in January, a tropical jellyfish with a crab living inside it found off Merimbula Wharf, tropical sea urchins and most recently a crowned jellyfish, for which the last recorded sighting in Australia was in 1924.
The Redmap (Range Extension Database & Mapping project) invites the Australian community to spot, log and map marine species that are uncommon in Australia, or along particular parts of our coast.
You can log on and report your unusual sightings here
According to the NSW Department of Primary Industries, pearl perch (Glaucosoma scapulareare) are found in small schools on deeper offshore reefs between Port Macquarie in NSW and Rockhampton in Queensland.
They have a maximum weight of around 5.5kg and 70cm in length. They are pearlish-green-silver-grey in colour with golden-brown specks on the scales.
Pearl perch are characterised by a large, shiny mark behind the gill covers and a small, dark blotch at the rear of the dorsal fin rays. Anglers generally catch this species on offshore reefs using baits such as squid, octopus, prawns and small live bait. Pearl perch is regarded as one of the best tasting fish in the ocean.