Sticks and stones can break your bones but names’ll never hurt you, but would you like to be called a Common Stinkfish? Baykeeper found this little fishy (around 250mm long) washed up in St Kilda shallows recently. sparking a search on the web and in marine textbooks for the name of the mystery fish. I was able to narrow the species identification down to some sort of stinkfish; but on the info available I still wasn’t certain.
How lucky we are to have the Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre on hand to get it right! Once I’d emailed my pic they promptly advised that it’s a Common Stinkfish, known to science as Foetorepus calauropomus. The common name didn’t fit with my experience: it was the only one I’d ever seen and it didn’t stink. I guess it just goes to show that ‘common names’ don’t necessarily make common sense! We need good science to help us understand and truly appreciate our natural treasures. Oh, and a crash course in Latin and Greek (or a handy dictionary) would help make sense of the scientific name.