In a week where we have been talking about Australia in 2050 and our future research vessel, it seemed refreshing to take a dip into the archives.
Meet the majestic FRV Derwent Hunter. The 72ft schooner was purchased by CSIRO in 1950 and was used for everything from shark tagging to plankton studies and deep sea fishing.
In 1959 the Derwent Hunter cruised South-East Australian waters to see if there was a relationship between the distributions of southern bluefin tuna and the type of water where they were caught. Our tuna research reeled in this huge swordfish, which we couldn’t resist as our fish of the week.
Swordfish are found widely in tropical and temperate parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, and have an interesting way of keeping warm in the cooler waters of South-East Australia. They have special organs to heat their eyes and brain, that have been measured at 10-15°C above surrounding waters. If you’ve ever used RipCurl’s heated wetsuit, you’ll understand how this can be wonderfully toasty.
The heating gives the Swordfish better vision and increases their ability to catch prey, although didn’t help them avoid the longlines of the FRV Derwent Hunter.
4th June 2019 at 10:44 pm
CSIRO Archives has a 16mm film reel of the Derwent Hunter during her time with us. This film has yet to be examined so who knows what will be revealed after many decades of storage.
6th June 2013 at 2:28 pm
Wrong again CSIRO! Photo from the Fifties is of a striped marlin not a (broadbill) swordfish. Striped marlin ride the EAC down the East Coast of Tassie. You should know better with your fish ID – David Lockwood
26th March 2013 at 9:47 am
Great article, we are the current owners of Derwent Hunter, who is still working for a living in the Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, taking guests out to experience life under sail and checking out our reef and fish. Derwent Hunter is still helping out with research as part of the Eye on the Reef programme with Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. We often talk about the time that Derwent Hunter spent with CSIRO as part of our history talk to our guests on board who find it fascinating.
26th March 2013 at 10:05 am
Thanks Jo! That’s great to know, and I’ll have to find time for a sail on my next trip north. Nice to hear she’s still helping out with research keeping her eyes on the reef.