Pink Maomao

Pink maomao school in the Poor Kight's Islands Marine Reserve

Schools of pink maomao Caprodon longimanus congregate during the day where they have herded their plankton prey (tiny red euphausid shrimps or krill) near the surface and where escape is limited. Here in the Poor Knight's Islands Marine Reserve off the northern coast of New Zealand they mostly live where there is a moderate current, and the areas natural archways, tunnels and cave entrances seethe with them.

Pink maomao school in the Poor Kight's Islands Marine Reserve

They are usually found in water between 15 and 60m deep, but occasionally will school nearer the surface. Their extremely long pectoral fins suggested the species name longimanus and these help the fish to manoeuvre accurately and rapidly. Their deeply forked tails and elongate body-plan (they can grow to 50cm) is typical of open ocean species.

Pink maomao school in the Poor Kight's Islands Marine Reserve

However, there is less co-ordination in the maomao schools than amongst silery fish schools of the open sea, which swim in schools for protection. 'Pink maomao swim in a more casual type of school, turning and twisting as individuals and perhaps mainly aggregating because their prey is en masse.'(Doak)

At sunset pink maomao schools immediately stop feeding, and return to their favourite roosting areas, moving in a long stream. 'They seem to reach a period of deepest sleep between 11pm and midnight.'(Doak)

Reference: Wade Doak's World of New Zealand Fishes by Wade Doak. Hodder & Stoughton, Auckland, 1991 ISBN 0340 533242

These still frames are taken from the wealth of underwater footage that is housed in NHNZ Images stockshot library, and which is available for sale in your production.