Sunfish science – the beginning

Scientists from Auckland Museum and Te Papa are busy preparing the sharp-tail sunfish for dissection.

Scientists measuring the sharp-tail sunfish. Photographer: Ruth Hendry (c) Te Papa

Scientists measuring the sharp-tail sunfish. Photographer: Ruth Hendry (c) Te Papa

We have our own photographers and photographers from the Dominion Post taking images of the specimen. This will help us to record what the specimen looked like as soon as it was taken from the freezer.

Over time, whether the specimen is on display or kept in isopropyl alcohol, the colours on the skin fade. These photos are an invaluable record of the appearance of a rare species.

Whilst the sunfish is being photographed, scientists can take measurements to find out its dimensions – although I don’t know the exact size yet, it’s over 2 metres long!

Scientists are also removing any external skin parasites so they can be examined. Sunfish are thought to house over 40 different parasites at one time!

How many parasites will this sunfish have?

Watch sunfish science live!

Watch live from 1.30pm NZ time 13 Aug 2013

Te Papa’s scientists will be conducting research on our sunfish specimen on 13 August 2013. We’ll be live-blogging and sharing the scientists’ findings through Facebook and Twitter.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to sit in as scientists do their research on these rarely seen animals. Don’t miss out!

Read our sunfish science blogs.

Use #sunfishtepapa to join in the conversation on Twitter.

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