Prototroctes oxyrhynchus Günther, 1870:152
New Zealand grayling, upokororo (Māori name), White spotted greyling (archaic)
Taxonomy & Nomenclature
Synonym/s: Prototroctes oxyrhyncus Günther, 1870:152 (orth. error used by (Hiroa, 1926)); Retropinna upokororo Hector, 1871:134; Prototroctes
saleii [MS name?; used by Clarke in his 1889 illustration (see Media below); Schallenberg & Sorrell, 2009]
Last record: March 1923
IUCN RedList 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 here). 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).
Above: Prototroctes oxyrhynchus (White spotted greyling), 1889, New Zealand, by Frank Edward Clarke. Purchased 1921. Te Papa (1992-0035-2278/1)
Lost Animals of the 20th Century (TV Show)
Original scientific description:
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