Common names

Tue Jun 6 09:30:00 CDT 1995

One problem we have in New Zealand is the lack of  common names for fish: A
new species is found , on average, every 2 weeks,  (about one third of these
are undescribed, the rest being known from elsewhere). Occasionally these
new species already have a common name, but more often one has to be
For species with more than one common name we find that in some instances
the different common names used reflect real,  unrecognised differences. For
example, fishermen have recognised the commercial species "king tarakihi" as
distinct from "common tarakihi" for years, but only recently have
taxonomists investigated the difference. Marketing also has a lot to answer
for: the name "orange roughy" was invented in the 1970's because the correct
common name (orange slimehead) was felt to be 'undesirable'.
Chris Paulin
Museum of New Zealand
chrisp at

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