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Fury over killing of ‘friendly’ blue groper

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Divers in Sydney, Australia, are furious after an eastern blue groper, nicknamed Gus and reckoned to be over 40 years old, which used to be extremely friendly and approachable has been killed by a spearfisherman.

The fish – blue groper are the official fish of New South Wales and are protected from commercial fishing and spearfishing – had ‘greeted' scuba divers for decades off Oak Park Beach, south of Cronulla, and was hugely popular, so when a New Zealand spearfisherman shot and killed the iconic fish on 30 December, he was met by a horde of angry locals, who wasted no time in photographing him with his prey as evidence of his crime.

blue groper
The spearfisherman with his prey was quickly confronted

The 26-year-old spearfisherman, who apparently expressed ‘significant remorse for his actions, was subsequently given an on-the-spot AUS$500 fine following questioning from the police – that is the penalty for taking the fish without use of a rod or handline.

The maximum permitted fine is AUS$22,000, or a prison term of up to six months, but no court appearance is required, which was why the diver's name was not issued by the police.

PADI Course Director Peter Letts, owner of Abyss Scuba Diving (which has a blue groper-inspired logo), said: “Gus was more than just a fish; he was an ambassador for marine conservation, delighting divers with his mersmerising hues and gentle demeanour.”

blue groper
The Abyss Scuba Diving logo

He continued: “We must act now to prevent such heart-breaking incidents from happening again. We need stricter enforcement of existing laws and regulations and more robust conservation efforts.”

But was the dead fish even Gus? David Ireland, a wildlife documentary-maker who originally gave the groper the name Gus back in the 1980s, later claimed that the victim had not, in fact, been Gus at all.

He said that the dead fish was smaller and lacked a distinctive scar near the tail where Gus had once been speared before.

Photo credit: Abyss Scuba Diving

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John bushe
John bushe
6 months ago

What the Fs up with the clouds in the background

Mitch Bazant
Mitch Bazant
6 months ago

Dumb arced man should get this own spear!

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Picture of Mark Evans
Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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