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Using Gyotaku to Reveal Past Records of Fishes Including Extinct Populations

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Fish Diversity of Japan

Abstract

Japan has developed unique customs related to recreational fishing. Gyotaku, which means “fish impression” or “fish rubbing” in English, has become common since the last Edo Period. A gyotaku is made by copying an image of a fresh fish specimen to paper using ink. Information such as capture locality and sampling date were often written on a gyotaku sheet, and these can be useful with respect to past biodiversity data. Some fish targets of gyotaku (i.e., popular targets of recreational fishing) have been listed as threatened species in the Japanese red lists because their habitats have been seriously degraded. Some gyotaku targets are able to be identified to species using gyotaku alone, particularly if external morphologies such as number of scales or scale rows are distinguishing characters. Two examples of the families Sparidae and Sillaginidae are discussed, and the latter includes new distributional records for Sillago parvisquamis. This species has been listed as critically endangered, and only one gyotaku sheet of the species caught from the Tokyo Bay was previously known. Additional sheets from Tokyo Bay are reported here, with identifications based on the gyotaku alone. As shown herein, data mining from historical materials such as gyotaku can help clarify past biodiversity.

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Acknowledgments

We are sincerely grateful to S. Yoshino, K. Yoshino (Funayado-Yoshinoya), M. Kamiya (Kamiya Tsuriguten), K. Miyagi (Miyagi Tsuriguten), K. Kawashima (Tama City, Tokyo), M. Matsumura (Shiraume Day Nursery), A. Konno (Tsuruoka City Folk Museum), G. Shinohara, M. Nakae (NSMT), K. Sakamoto (ZUMT) and H. Senou (KPM) for their kind provisions of their collections. We also express our deep gratitude to G. Yearsley (Ellipsis Editing, Australia) for English technical editing of the manuscript. This research was partly supported by the JSPS KAKENHI Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) (No. 16K16225) and for Early-Career Scientists (No. 20K20008).

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Correspondence to Yusuke Miyazaki .

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Miyazaki, Y., Murase, A. (2022). Using Gyotaku to Reveal Past Records of Fishes Including Extinct Populations. In: Kai, Y., Motomura, H., Matsuura, K. (eds) Fish Diversity of Japan. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-7427-3_24

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