Gemfish in Australia are a single species, Rexea solandri (pictured). Given the vast size of Australia’s southern coastline and the high biodiversity among other bony fish, it is unusual that there is only one species in Australia.
Colleagues at Stellenbosch University in South Africa are undertaking a study of the family Gempylidae, to which the Australian species belong. Gempylids include the snake mackerels, snoeks, gemfishes, sackfishes, escolars, and the oilfish and are found around the world. There are 16 genera and 24 species. Most of the species are swift predators found in all oceans, usually in depths of 200-500 m, but often migrating to the surface at night. Studies of gempylid relationships are do not give a clear picture of their evolutionary relationships. The South Africa study will be the first large scale molecular investigation into evolutionary relationships in this family.
Nine Australian gemfish samples collected during the MFL project will be sent to South Africa to be included in this study.