Marine Life Society of South Australia Inc.


September 2006   No. 336

understanding, enjoying & caring for our oceans”


Next Meeting

This will be the September General Meeting and will be held at the Conservation Centre, 120 Wakefield Street, Adelaide on Wednesday 20th September commencing at 7.30pm.


Our guest speaker will be Rosemary Paxinos who is the Project Officer, Marine Planning, Coast and Marine Conservation Branch. She will be speaking on the Marine Planning update for the Spencer Gulf.




From Dragonet To Thornfish (Steve Reynolds)

Port Jackson Shark Congregations (Steve Reynolds)

Mosaic Leatherjacket Confusion (Steve Reynolds)

Kingscote’s Beare Point Jetties (Steve Reynolds)

British Seahorse Sightings (Steve Reynolds)


On 26th July Margaret and I traveled down to Victor Harbor to give a talk on local marine life to the Probus Club of Victor Harbor and Granite Island. The talk was well received and there were plenty of questions. We also managed to sell 17 2007 Calendars and directed others who had forgotten their purses/wallets to the Whale Centre who sell calendars for us. The picture shows some of the audience.



From Dragonet To Thornfish

by Steve Reynolds


When David Muirhead’s 2007 calendar photo of a Thornfish was added to our Photo Index, I discovered that a Thornfish is what we once called a Dragonet, Bovichtus variegatus. The scientific name for the Thornfish is Bovichtus angustifrons. According to “Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia” by Rudie Kuiter, the name Bovichtus variegatus was wrongly applied to the fish in Australia. Bovichtus variegatus is a New Zealand species of Dragonet. That name was only used for the Australian species “Due to a type-locality error”. Thornfish are still also referred to as being Dragonets. There is still much confusion over Dragonets. “Marine Fishes, Volume 2” by Gilbert Whitley features a Dragonet, Calliurichthys nasutus, which is really a Stinkfish. Four species of Stinkfish are included in “The Marine & Freshwater Fishes of South Australia” by Scott, Glover & Southcott. These are all Callionymus species from the family Callionymidae. A Dragonet included in Neville Coleman’s book “Australian Sea Fishes South of 30°S” is called Dactylopus dactylopus. This is from the family Callionymidae (Stinkfishes) and it appears to be yet another Stinkfish. “Seafishes of Southern Australia” by Hutchins & Swainston gives the scientific name for the Dragonet as Bovichthys variegatus even though “The Marine & Freshwater Fishes of South Australia” by Scott, Glover & Southcott updates this 1846 name to Bovichtus variegatus. David Muirhead’s Thornfish photo is featured as the large picture for March in our 2007 calendar of SA Marine Life.



David Muirhead



Port Jackson Shark Congregations

by Steve Reynolds


Large numbers of Port Jackson Sharks, Heterodontus portusjacksoni, will congregate together in shallow waters in summer to mate. According to the book “A Guide To Sharks & Rays” by Leighton Taylor et al, both sexes in the Sydney area do this in August and September each year. Kevin Deacon wrote a section about NSW in the book He particularly mentions Jervis Bay where thousands of Port Jackson Sharks are said to congregate for mating during August and September each year. It seems that they may then hang around the area for a couple of months because Kevin says that most of them disperse during November and December. After reading these details in the book, I was reminded of one of my dives at Port Noarlunga reef in 2005. On 5th November that year my buddy and I came across about 20 adult Port Jackson Sharks which were congregating in a small area outside the reef. We may well have been very lucky to see them just before they decided to disperse like their Jervis Bay cousins. I then recalled the first time that I had seen a congregation of Port Jackson Sharks. It was at Olivers Reef, Victor Harbor. A quick scan of my old log books revealed that it occurred on 5th November 1988. By some remarkable coincidence, both dates were the same. I will now be on the lookout for more shark congregations between August and November each year. Don’t expect to find the sharks ‘at it’, however, since mating is said to only occur under cover of darkness. Our 2007 calendar of SA Marine Life features Anne Wilson’s small photo of a Port Jackson Shark at Wool Bay for the month of January (2007).


Picture: Anne Wilson


Mosaic Leatherjacket Confusion

by Steve Reynolds


In the past there has been some confusion surrounding the Mosaic leatherjacket, Eubalichthys mosaicus. According to “Seafishes of Southern Australia” by Hutchins & Swainston, the Mosaic Leatherjacket is also known as the Deep-bodied Leatherjacket. “The Marine & Freshwater Fishes of South Australia” by Scott, Glover & Southcott gives the Deep-bodied Leatherjacket as a separate species, Weerutta ovalis. It says that “this species resembles Eubalichthys mosaicus but may be distinguished from this genus and species by the lack of barbs on the dorsal fin, and the body colouration”. Colouration is described as “rich slate blue, with yellow-brown blotches, arranged in longitudinal rows, forming continuous bars near the upper and lower profiles. Dorsal and anal fins yellowish”. According to “Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia” by Rudie Kuiter, Mosaic Leatherjackets become “more blue with age; males darker with indistinct whitish vertical bands”. Neville Coleman’s book “Australian Sea Fishes South of 30°S” says that “Larger (Mosaic) males are solitary and live on deeper offshore reefs”.





All Pictures by David Muirhead.


Kingscote’s Beare Point Jetties

by Steve Reynolds

Photo credits: SR = Steve Reynolds, PH = Philip Hall



The colony of South Australia was started in 1836 by the South Australian (Land?) Company which had been established by an Act of Parliament in England. The title of the Act was the South Australian Act. The South Australian Company’s charter was to establish the new settlement of South Australia somewhere between the Great Australian Bight and Port Philip Bay. It chose to start the colony near the present location of Kingscote on Kangaroo Island.

Matthew Flinders had named Kangaroo Island on 22nd February 1802. He had landed on the island where he was able to stock up on kangaroo meat. Kingscote is situated on the shores of Nepean Bay which had been named by Flinders after Sir Evan Nepean, the First Secretary of the British Admiralty at the time when Flinders sailed from England. There is a memorial to Matthew Flinders at Kingscote.

Matthew Flinders memorial (PH)

The memorial to Matthew Flinders is located at Memorial Park which is close to Beare Point. The Flinders Memorial was placed there in 1902 for the centenary of Flinders’ discovery of the area.

Kingscote itself is named after Henry Kingscote who was one of the Directors on the board of the South Australian Company. Both he and George Fife Angus had been appointed to the board on 15th October 1835. The first settlers landed at Reeves Point in July 1836. The town of Kingscote was first established at Reeves Point when a ceremony was held on 27th July 1836. The official proclamation of Kingscote, however, did not occur until it was done by Governor John Hindmarsh on 30th June 1838.

Reeves Point itself was named after Augustus Reeves, one of the first settlers. Augustus operated a wooden store at Kingscote. The store included a post office run by his son Samuel Reeves. Samuel went on to become the first postmaster at Kingscote. There is, however, some confusion regarding the post office there. The post office at Kingscote (Reeves Point) is said to have been transferred to the new Telegraph Station at nearby Beare Point in 1870. The first individual post office is then said to have opened adjacent to the Telegraph Station (and next to the new Beare Point jetty) on 15th August 1876. That was, however, some eleven years before the jetty is said to have been built. A cairn at Reeves Point indicates that a building there was used as a post office between 1871 and 1883. That was when a new town called Queenscliffe was surveyed to the south of Beare Point and the Reeves Point settlement was abandoned (in 1883). It does seem that a post office was established at Beare Point in 1883. The first jetty was then built there in 1886/7. The post office serviced the town of Kingscote until 1938 when a new post office was built in Dauncy Street. In 1940 Queenscliffe was renamed Kingscote. The old post office at Beare Point was demolished in 1954. The Kangaroo Island Marine Centre (formerly Jenny Clapson’s Gallery) is now operating at Beare Point.

Beare Point’s three jetties and the KI Marine Centre (SR)

Beare Point is named after Thomas Hudson Beare who arrived at nearby Reeves Point on the Duke of York on 27th July 1836. The Duke of York was a 190-ton barque under the command of Captain RC Morgan. She had been converted to a barque in England in 1834. Her length was greater than 81 feet and she was over 23 feet wide. There is a model of her inside the Kingscote library in Dauncey Street.

Captain Morgan decided that Thomas Beare’s two-year old daughter Elizabeth would be the first official settler to set foot on dry land in SA. At 1400 hours on the 27th July he had a sailor carry Elizabeth ashore and place her gently on dry land.

Thomas Beare was the Deputy Manager of the South Australian Company. He came to South Australia from Hampshire, England with his wife Lucy Ann Beare and their family. His wife Lucy died during childbirth the following year on 3rd September 1837. She was just 34 years old, having been born in 1803. She was the mother of five children, all of whom were under eleven years of age. Her daughter Elizabeth would have been only about three years old at the time. Lucy was buried in the cemetery at Reeves Point.

She was the first settler to be buried there. The cemetery is SA’s oldest and employees of the South Australian Company and their descendents are buried there. It is sometimes referred to as the “Pioneers’ Cemetery”.

The grave of Lucy Ann Beare at the Reeves Point cemetery (PH)

The grave has been preserved with the headstone now laid on top of a concrete block. There is a plaque on the side of the concrete block.

There is a memorial to the first settlers from the Duke of York between the old site of Reeves Point and the new site at Kingscote. It was unveiled in 1936 for the centenary of the arrival of the first settlers. It is located overlooking Nepean Bay on the highest cliff above Reeves Point. Whilst the Duke of York was returning to England she was wrecked off of New South Wales on 14th August 1837.

The memorial to the first settlers from the Duke of York (PH)

Samuel Stephens was the General Manager of the South Australian Company when the settlers landed at Reeves Point in 1836. He was later killed in a horse riding accident and was then replaced as General Manager by Thomas Beare. In 1838 Beare bought the area now known as the Adelaide suburb of Netley. Beare had named the area after the ruins of Netley Abbey in his native county of Hampshire in England. His daughter Elizabeth was tragically burnt to death in 1842 when she was only about eight years old.

There are three jetties at (or near) Beare Point (also referred to as ‘Bear Point’, ‘Beare’s Point’ and ‘Beares’ Point’) at Kingscote.

The first jetty at Beare Point with the main jetty in the background (SR)

The first jetty at Beare Point was built between1886 and 1887. It is the smaller of the two parallel jetties, the one on the left, or north of, the main jetty. Kingscote’s new main jetty was originally built in 1910. It was, however, rebuilt and widened between 1954 and 1957. It is said to be 350m long and it has been the ferry terminal for several of KI’s previous ferries.

Kingscote’s main jetty adjacent to the first jetty at Beare Point (SR)

In the mid-1950s a ‘swimming pool’ was located between the two jetties. The pool was staked-off in an attempt to keep any nasty creatures out (a form of shark-proof fence).

In the late 1940s and early 1950s there were railway lines on the main jetty. These were used for horse-drawn trucks. Draught horses were used to tow rail trucks along the jetty. By the mid-1950s a rubber-tyred tow motor replaced the horse-drawn trucks.

The Fisherman’s Jetty at Beare Point (SR)

The third of the jetties at Beare Point is the Fisherman’s Jetty. As mentioned above, the Kangaroo Island Marine Centre is located at the Kingscote wharf at Beare Point. John Ayliffe (the Pelican Man) from the Kangaroo Island Marine Centre feeds the pelicans daily at 5pm. He feeds them at the wharf, inshore from the Fisherman’s Jetty.


Seahorses in one of the aquariums in the Marine Centre (PH)




Pelicans waiting to be fed by John Ayliffe, the Pelican Man (PH)


“A Cruising Guide to Historic Gulf Ports – Vol.2 (Investigator Strait and Kangaroo Island)” by Graham Scarce, Kingsley Publications, 1985.

“The Jetties of South Australia – Past and Present” by Neville Collins, published by the author, 2005. ISBN 0-9580482-2-3.


British Seahorse Sightings

by Steve Reynolds


As our newsletter Editor, I wrote a report in our July 1996 Newsletter (No.224) titled “Seahorses Return to British Waters”. The details for the report came from the October 1995 issue of the newspaper International Express. According to the paper, seven seahorses were caught off Weymouth, Dorset back then. The report said that the first seahorse recorded for decades was caught off Sussex in 1990. Two more seahorses were discovered off Weymouth in 1992. The seven seahorses were then caught off Weymouth in 1995.

Our August 2001 Newsletter (No.280), edited by Philip Hall, then included a report taken from the *British Marine Life Study Society’s “Torpedo” magazine. The report said that a Swanage lobster fisherman had just caught his second seahorse in a week. It went on to say that there had been previous seahorse discoveries in Weymouth Bay and the Fleet in Dorset (1995?). There had also been reports of seahorse sightings at Studland around the early 1980s.

I followed up the above reports in our February 2002 Newsletter (No.285) with an article titled “Second Seahorse Sighting At Swanage In Six Days” (I tend to have moments like that). My article commented on the above details.

A British Marine Life Study Society report in our February 2005 Newsletter (No.318) reported the regurgitation of a seahorse by a whiting in October 2004. The whiting, which regurgitated the seahorse, had been caught on rod and line four miles out of Brighton, Sussex. The report had been made by both Jan Light from the Conchological Society and Dr Gerald Legg from the Booth Museum. The report said that seahorses are not (generally) known off of the Sussex coasts. One unconfirmed sighting had apparently been reported previously. It (the report) went on to say that the Hairy Seahorse, Hippocampus guttulatus, had previously been recorded off the Dorset coast. The report said that this is usually a shallow-water species. It was thought that the regurgitated seahorse would have been the Mediterranean Seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus (referred to as the “Short-snouted Seahorse in the report).

Now, Andy Horton from the British Marine Life Study Society recently told us that fishermen at Southwick, West Sussex, England reported catching three seahorses in April 2006. Peter Talbot-Elsden said that they are the first seahorses caught there for several years and other fishermen are reporting finding them in their fixed nets several miles offshore. The identity of these fish has not been confirmed but seahorses are considered to be rarely found on the Sussex coast.

All of the above mentioned locations in England are situated on the mid-south coast of England. Let’s hope that seahorses are becoming more abundant there and that they thrive well.

I have prepared the following table just in case the above details are somewhat confusing: -


Reported seahorse sightings on the mid-south coast of England - 1980 to 2006







Early 1980s











































It is now clear from the above table that seahorses had not previously been reported from Sussex for some fifteen years. There have now been two reports of seahorse sightings in the past three years (2004 to 2006).

I sent a draft of this article to Andy Horton, Dr Gerald Legg and Jan Light. I soon received a reply from Dr Legg. He is Keeper of Natural Sciences at Booth Museum. He says that he has got unconfirmed records for 2005 for the presence of seahorses near New Haven. He says that he has been diving there to try to confirm the sightings but he has not yet been able to find any. He, and others, thinks that the seahorses are probably more widespread than realised, it is just a matter of people finding them. He says that divers tend to go for wrecks in deeper water rather than eel-grass and similar weedy habitats.

(We don’t have the same problem here in South Australia. Antony King has taken a great photo at Haystack Island (off of the Yorke Peninsula) of several Syngnathids (several seahorses, including Big-bellied seahorses, and a pipefish) together in the same frame.)

* The British Marine Life Study Society is now 16 years old. It was formed on 6th June 1990. The Society’s web site address is .

Andy Horton can be contacted at .



“Seahorses Return to British Waters” by Steve Reynolds, MLSSA Newsletter, July 1996, No.224.

A report taken from the British Marine Life Study Society’s “Torpedo” magazine,  MLSSA Newsletter, August 2001, No.280.

“Second Seahorse Sighting At Swanage In Six Days” by Steve Reynolds, MLSSA Newsletter, February 2002, No.285.

“British Marine Life Study Society”, MLSSA Newsletter, February 2005, No.318.

Booth Museum

Conchological Society


Photographer: Antony King

Big-bellied seahorses off Haystack Island, SYP

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