They are the Gymnothorax polyuranodo, commonly known as the freshwater moray eel and two rarely caught fish species; the Potamosilurus robertsi commonly known as Robert’s catfish and the Carcharhinus leucas, better known as the bull shark.
These discoveries were made in the last quarter of 2019 by the aquatic ecology team from the Environment Department of OTML whilst carrying out routine compliance monitoring work in the Upper and Middle Fly areas.
OTML manager environment, Jesse Pile, said: “The sighting of the moray eel brings to a total of 109 native species of fish recorded in the Fly River system. A recent fish diversity study showed >90 percent of the native species are found in different parts of the system, including the main channel, tributaries and off river water bodies.
“We have discovered two new species previously, the Kiunga Ballochi, named after former biologist David Ballochi and an eel-tailed catfish pending genetic and morphologic confirmation at Western Australia Museum.”
The moray eel is the new species caught at Wai Meri, a tributary of Ok Tedi by locals of Kwiape village near the Ok Tedi Mining Limited’s Bige operations.
Although a native to New Guinea (i.e., Papua New Guinea and West Papua), there are only three recorded catches in PNG; at Wewak, Manus Island and Madang.
Generally found near the sea and water inlets or in freshwaters a short distance away from the sea, this catch at Bige was caught further inland at more than 1000km from the sea.
This is a first for Western Province and the fourth record for the country. The species will be added to the 2018 Fish Species Diversity study report.
The Robert’s Catfish was caught along the Fly River at Kuambit near D’Albertis Junction by the Environment team.
The last record of this fish was in 1975 up in the Elevala River.
And at 190 miles upstream from the sea (ARM190), a juvenile bull shark was caught by local villages. This brings to two the number of bull sharks caught at the same location in 2019. The first specimen was observed in March 2019.
Flesh and fin tissue samples will be sent for genetic confirmation by external scientist and the specimen will be lodged into the UPNG Museum collections.
(The moray eel)