A total of five new fish records and one potential new fish species as well as five new records and two potential new prawn species were discovered on Isabel and Choiseul Provinces in the Solomon Islands.
The discovery followed a recent expedition by the French Ichthyological Society (SFI), based at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN), Paris, France, and Ecological Solutions, Solomon Islands (ESSI).
A total of 56 fish species and 30 prawn species were documented at the end of the expedition on Monday this week. The team spend a total of 11 days in the field surveying freshwater fish, prawns and crabs in rivers on Choiseul and Isabel Provinces.
The expedition was conducted from October 18 to October 28 at the rivers on Katupika and Babatena on Choiseul Island and on Kia and surrounding areas on Isabel Island.
The team was composed of three scientists from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and two local biologists from Ecological Solutions and their boat crews.
The team departed from Gizo for Boeboe Village on Choiseul and travelled by boat as far as Suavanao on Isabel to conduct the freshwater survey. The team braved the bad weather during the trip but were fully satisfied by the discovery made during the expedition.
“Even though, we were challenged by the rough and rolling seas during this trip, the new discovery is sweeter than the stormy sea,” Dr. Clara Lord of the French Ichthyological Society said.
The trip was made possible through the funding support from the ‘Fondation de France’ via a grant awarded to the French Ichthyological Society. It was also made possible thanks to the partnership between the custodians of the rivers that the team surveyed, the leaders of the provincial government on Choiseul and Isabel and the national government through the Department of Environment and Conservation. This partnership forms the basis of the successful expedition.
The team would also like to acknowledge all the chiefs and their communities for accepting them into their villages. Furthermore, they would like to acknowledge Mr. Larry Leketo who has organized all the logistics for the team on Isabel.
The discovery will add to the list of discoveries that the team has made in 2014 and 2016 on Choiseul, Kolobangara, Ranongga, Vellala Vella, Guadalcanal and Malaita Provinces. The team has discovered a total of four fish species, one crab species and 17 prawn species, which are all new to science.
“The recent studies will add to the list above. The results of the team’s work will be compiled into a freshwater fish book for Solomon Islands which the team hopes to publish by June 2020. The book will be in English and Pidgin,” explained Mr. David Boseto of ESSI.
The book will raise awareness regarding the rich freshwater fish biodiversity and the role of pristine forest on habitats and freshwater quality. The book will also provide important information concerning conservation and management actions where needed given the knowledge about species and for management actions that could readily be implemented by local communities and resource managers. The information from the book will be useful to other stakeholders, especially those involved in teaching at secondary and tertiary schools and for public awareness programs commented Professor Philippe Keith.