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Prototroctes oxyrhyncus Günther, 1870:152
New Zealand grayling, upokororo (Māori name)
Taxonomy & Nomenclature
Synonym/s: Retropinna upokororo Hector, 1871:134
Last record: March 1923
IUCN RedLisat status: Extinct
A formerly very abundant species of smelt, apparently even used as a fertiliser pre-1900, the reason for its extinction is not clear. However, habitat alteration, overfishing and introduced fish are the likely culprits.
The last authenticated New Zealand grayling's, 30 to 40 of them, were caught by Sir Peter Buck at an artificial weir in March 1923 according to (Day, 1981). A photo of apparently the same event clearly shows three men using a hīnaki (i.e. trap) (see [url=https://www.teara.govt.nz/en/freshwater-fish/1/1]here[/url]). However, as with most putatively extinct species, unconfirmed records continue long after the last confirmed individual has died. There are even rumours that it persists in isolated tributaries to this day. And these must be taken with some seriousness as it cannot be guaranteed that all possible bodies of water have been surveyed extensively enough.
Biology & Ecology
A specimen handed in to the British Museum in the 1930's was an unknown number of years old, thus it is uncertain whether this lone specimen was caught after March 1923 or before (World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 1996).
Original scientific description:
Günther, A. C. L. G. (1870). [scientific description of Prototroctes oxyrhyncus]. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1870: 152.
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Clarke, F. E. (1899). Notes on New Zealand Galaxidae, more especially those of the western slopes: with descriptions of new species. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 31: 78-91.
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Hector, James. (1871). [description of synonym of Prototroctes oxyrhyncus]. Trans. N. Z. Inst. 3: 134.
Hector, James. (1872). Notes on the edible fishes, pp. 97-133 [p. 123-125]. In: Hutton, Frederick Wollaston and Hector, James (eds.). Fishes of New Zealand: catalogue with diagnoses of the species. Wellington: J. Hughes.
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Lee, Finnbar and Perry, George L. W. (2019). Assessing the role of off‐take and source–sink dynamics in the extinction of the amphidromous New Zealand grayling (Prototroctes oxyrhynchus). Freshwater Biology. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13366 [Abstract]
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McDowall, Robert M. and Stewart, A. L. (2015). Family Prototroctidae; Southern Hemisphere graylings, pp. 381-382. In: Roberts, C. D., Stewart, A. L. and Struthers, C. D. (eds.). The Fishes of New Zealand. Vol. 2. Wellington: Te Papa Press. 576 pp.
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