Marine heat wave explains Spanish sighting

Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

The marine heat wave in the summer of 2010-2011 may explain an Albany man’s latest catch at Two Peoples Bay.

Spear fisherman Jason Woonings was a little surprised when he caught this 91cm Spanish Mackerel on Tuesday while free diving.

“It was only small… but the special thing about it is these fish are a tropical water fish and never go any further south than Perth let alone all the way to Albany.” he said.

Department of Fisheries principal scientist Dr Gary Jackson said there was a likely explanation.

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“It’s relatively rare but since the marine heat wave it has become more common.” he said

In February and March of 2011 water temperatures off the WA coast rose more than 3C and was subsequently labelled as a marine heat wave.

The heat wave coincided with a solid La Nina event and a record strength Leeuwin current.

Mr Jackson said since the marine heat wave in 2011 sightings of marine life typically seen in tropical waters had become more common along the South Coast.

Mr Jackson urged water goers that noticed unusual marine life to use the website www.redmap.org.au to record their sightings.

“It’s a project that will help us figure out which marine species might be extending their distribution range.” he said.

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