Undoubtedly Melbourne's most popular attraction outside the sporting venues with visitors and Melburnians alike are 'the fish', the 36 installations that dominate a kilometre of the Yarra River landscape between Princes Bridge and the Swan Street Bridge.
72 fish installations in the Yarra River have hooked the imagination of passers-by.
Spectators along the riverbanks have marvelled at the intricate metalwork and realistically stylised designs. Some have been sufficiently intrigued to walk the two kilometre round route to view all 72 fish, trying to find a particular fish or country represented. Each fish is meticulously identified by a plaque set on the water's edge.
Many more have been amazed and delighted by the spectacular sound and light show that takes place every night of the Games, between 8pm and 11pm on the hour. The fish glow and shimmer in a dance of coloured lights and fountains, dynamic images drawn in the water spray, and a light show coordinated to music.
For the technically minded, the River event uses more than 360 'intelligent' moving lights, 100 speaker boxes, 11 km of special submersible power cable and 45km of data cable.
The water effects move 36,000 litres of water per minute when operating at full capacity.
The fish were selected to represent each nation competing in the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. Not all of the sculptures are of fish; there are also dolphins, whales, prawns and a turtle. Each fish or sea creature is either indigenous to the country they represent or are important to the local economy of that country.
Local Melbourne company, Megafun Pty Ltd, were engaged by M2006 and Jack Moreton Worldwide to develop the River Project in 2004. Director Keith Tucker created and developed the concept, and oversaw a core group of 20 people who with an army of more than 400 staff and volunteers brought the entire event to completion on the night of the Opening Ceremony.
Amber Myers from the River Team researched every fish and marine animal, and they were checked and verified by Dr Martin Gomon, the Melbourne Museum's Icthyologist (fish specialist). These choices were then reviewed by every competing country prior to final inclusion.
Melbourne design company Mothers Art was commissioned to build the fish, which they undertook in their studios in Spotswood. The different component parts of each fish were placed on barges in a warehouse in the Docklands and floated down the Yarra River to their present site, where they were assembled several weeks before the Opening Ceremony.
In response to multiple inquires from the public, following is a list of all the nations and their representative fish, and the text that accompanies each one on the riverside plaques.
Aquatic creatures of each nation
Sea Creature - common name
Sea Creature - Latin name
The Anguilla flag depicts three orange dolphins in an interlocking circular design. The dolphins symbolise endurance, unity and strength, and are in a circle to represent continuity.
Antigua & Barbuda
With its sleek, torpedo-like body, dagger-like teeth, and ferocious appetite, the barracuda is built to hunt in the well preserved coral reefs of Antigua and Barbuda.
In the lower Yarra region, short-finned eels move downstream in March to the sea to commence their spawning migration.
Bonefish are among the most challenging game fish and the Bahamas are said to be home to some of the best bonefishing on earth.
Hilsa Shad is caught mainly for food in Bangladesh and is sacred according to Hindu mythology. Hilsa Shad contribute to 30% of total fish production in Bangladesh.
Flyingfish are plentiful in the waters around Barbados. These small silvery fish, which look like they have wings when they leap out of the water, can glide through the air for up to 23m.
The Nassau grouper, a large predatory fish inhabiting coral reefs, was once the second most commonly caught fish in Belize.
Bermuda is in the path of migrating schools of Wahoo. Wahoo is the largest of all mackerels and is found worldwide in tropical and subtropical coastal waters.
The Tiger Fish's scientific name translates to "striped water dog" and with their fierce rows of sharp conical canine teeth they certainly resemble their namesake.
British Virgin Islands
With its distinctive markings the Queen Trigger fish is unmistakable. These shy fish are commonly found in the clear blue waters off the British Virgin Islands.
The Koran Angelfish is found on Brunei’s coastline in the South China Sea. The blue and black markings on its tail resemble handwritten Arabic script.
The Portuguese sailed into Cameroon shouting 'Camarões, camarões!' in amazement at the many giant shrimp - hence the country's name. More than 75 percent of Cameroon’s fish species live nowhere else in the world.
While not harvested commercially by Canadian fishermen, this fish plays a key role in the diet of many Arctic marine mammals, seabirds and fish.
One of the unique attractions of Grand Cayman is the stingrays within the island's North Sound. Southern stingrays cluster around divers in hopes of being fed morsels of squid.
Surgeonfish are one of the most common fish found in the Cook Islands. Whitecheek Surgeonfish get their name from the knife-like spine on either side of the base of their tail.
Cyprus is the most easterly of the Mediterranean islands. There are more than 20 reservoirs on the island with good stocks of freshwater fish, many of which are Rainbow Trout.
Dominica has a unique underwater terrain. Adjacent to the coast, the seafloor drops off hundreds of metres, providing nutrients for whales.
The Roach is probably the most popular fish among freshwater anglers and is found in most kinds of water in England. They have red/orange eyes and red lower fins, and are often referred to as ‘Redfin’.
The Falkland Islands boast large colonies of Killer Whales. Pods of Killer Whales circle the island in pursuit of the elephant seals and sea lions that breed there.
One of the most spectacular looking marine species, the Clown Triggerfish, can be found in and around the coastal reefs of Fiji.
The African Bonytongue, is important to fisheries and aquaculture in West Africa. It is one of the abundant species of The Gambia, a small country stretching along the banks of the River Gambia.
Sardines are the staple fish in West Africa and travel in schools that may contain hundreds-of-thousands or even millions of individuals.
Pink Dentex is common in the waters of Gibraltar and valued as an eating fish. Dentex are a predatory species and are a prized catch for anglers.
Found in the inshore waters of Grenada, Jack Crevalle usually run in schools where they corner baitfish at the water’s surface and feed with such commotion they can be seen from great distances.
Fishing has always been a primary occupation on the island of Guernsey with salted and dried Conger Eels being exported to England. Traditionally Conger Eel oil was used to light their crasset lamps.
A giant of the Amazon Basin, the Arapaima is one of the largest freshwater fishes. They are carnivorous predators and have been known to leap out of the water to grab birds from the overhead branches of trees.
Meyer's Butterfly Fish
Lakshadweep is known to have a large variety of Butterfly Fish. Butterfly fish are small colourful fish marked by dark lines through the eyes and near the tail.
Isle of Man
Each spring and summer the waters surrounding the Isle of Man are a hot spot for basking shark activity, which come to feed on the rich plankton and to find a mate.
Yellow Tail Snapper
Dense schools of Yellowtail Snapper are found in the Caribbean Sea, off Jamaica. The yellowtail snapper has a broad yellow stripe from the nose to the wholly yellow tail.
Tidal ranges in Jersey are some of the highest in the world, with levels rising and falling up to forty feet on spring tides, uncovering myriad reefs, gullies, and sand banks that are the feeding haunts of the silvery flanks of Sea Bass.
Kenya's Broadbill fishing is rated as some of the finest in the world. Broadbill Swordfish are a large predatory fish with a long, sword-like bill at the tip of its snout.
Kiribati is an archipelagic nation comprising 33 islands, with some of the most productive tuna fishing grounds in the Pacific.
Small Mouth Yellowfish
Lesotho is a densely populated, mountainous country entirely surrounded by South Africa. The Small Mouth Yellowfish is one of only nine indigenous species.
The Rift Valley Lakes of Malawi are world-renowned for the diversity of fish species that have evolved in their waters. About 800 species of cichlids, including the Regal Fish, live in the lakes.
The Asian Arowana, also known as Ikan Kelisa in Malay and Dragon Fish in Chinese, occurs naturally only in a few localities in the world and is considered rare.
The coral reefs of the Maldives provide shelter for the Whale Shark. The largest fish in the world, the whale shark ranges from 4 to 12m in length.
The dolphinfish or Lampuka in Maltese is one of the most beautiful fish in the sea with brilliant iridescent colouring. The colours change rapidly when the fish is under stress, flashing from green to blue to yellow.
The waters of Mauritius are inhabited by the endangered Smalltooth Sawfish. The most eye-catching feature of the sawfish is their saw-like snout.
Blue Tangs are abundant in the Caribbean and are frequently seen darting around the coral reefs of Montserrat.
Black Tiger Prawn
People of Mozambique depends on fish products for half their protein intake. Prawns from the waters off Mozambique are famous for their large size and delicious flavour.
Horse Mackerel is the most common species in Namibian waters. Most of the catch is for export as the Namibian domestic market is very small due to a traditionally meat-based diet.
Historically baby Milkfish were taken from the sea and transferred to ponds. The ponds were partitioned into smaller, family-owned ponds and were part of a family’s inheritance.
Common in northern waters of New Zealand, these thin, deep-bodied predatory fish are weak swimmers.
During the Arugunga Fishing Festival hundreds of local men and boys enter the water, armed with large fishnet scoops to drive the Nile Perch to shallow waters.
Spinner Dolphins spend the whole year in the waters of Niue. They derive their name from a habit of leaping from the water and spinning lengthwise before splashing back to the sea.
Hammerhead Sharks are easily identified in the waters of Norfolk Island by their broad heads, which look very much like mallets.
With a body like molten metal and an outsized hunter’s head, Pike is one of the most widespread of Irish fish and Pike fishing is as old as Irish angling.
In the Baluchi fishing villages traditional fishing methods are still practiced. Sting-ray and shark livers are boiled down to make oil that is spread over the hulls of boats for protection.
Papua New Guinea
Papuan Black Bass
Healthy populations of the mighty Papuan Black Bass lurk in the dense jungle rivers of Papua New Guinea. The Papuan Black Bass is found nowhere else in the world.
Easily recognised and named for its zebra-like stripes, the Zebra moray eel, also know as To’etapu, spend their days hiding in tropical reefs and rock formations.
Many of Scotland’s rivers and lochs are stocked with brown trout from Loch Leven (Perthshire). Fishing for brownies has long been regarded as a popular sport.
The Seychelles Blenny was featured on the Seychelles 10c stamp in 2003.
Cichlid Anomalochromis thomasi
The African Butterfly is native to the rivers of Sierra Leone. They have a vertical band which becomes more apparent as the fish's mood changes.
The Guppy is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species in the world. Their most famous characteristic is their propensity for breeding.
Whitetip Reef Shark
Solomon Islanders, believing that ancestors often lived on as sharks, treat these animals with reverence.
Republic of South Africa
The Galjoen, found only along the South African coast, is the national marine emblem of the Republic of South Africa.
Two Spot Barb
Sri Lanka is home to 90 species of freshwater fish. Most of these fish are small and highly specialized to their habitat, such as the two-spot barb.
Fishing and agriculture are the main economic activities of St Helena. The seasonal influx of Yellowfin, Bigeye, Albacore and Skipjack Tuna is vital to the economy of the Island.
St Kitts & Nevis
French Angelfish are common in St Kitts & Nevis and throughout the Caribbean. Its scales have bright yellow edges, making a vibrant pattern against its dark blue body.
The abundance of these majestic reptiles in St Lucia is due to the permanent suspension of turtle hunting.
St Vincent & The Grenadines
The national dish of St Vincent & the Grenadines is fried jackfish and breadfruit. Bigeye Scad and Jack Crevalle are referred to as jackfish in the Caribbean.
Orange River Mudfish
The Orange River Mudfish, commonly called the Vaal muddy, is found in the Orange-Vaal system and is a highly popular target for boat anglers.
United Republic of Tanzania
The Vundu fish is an important element in the local diet as well as an important source of income to the local communities of the United republic of Tanzania.
Tonga protects the local Parrot fish. Parrot fish are often brightly coloured and their fused teeth form a “beak” used to scrape algae from coral.
Trinidad & Tobago
The Cascadura is a very popular fish in Trinidad and Tobago, and holds a sacred place in the country's folklore.
Turks & Caicos
The virgin fishing grounds of Turks & Caicos are often referred to as the Blue Marlin capital of the Caribbean.
Tuvalu enjoys a spectacular marine environment with a vast array of colourful tropical fish. Butterflyfish are named for their brightly coloured and strikingly patterned bodies.
Oreochromis niloticus eduardianus
One of the most common fish in Uganda is the Tilapia. Farmed throughout the world, wild Tilapia are an important food in Africa.
Far too small to be hunted by man for food, clownfish have lived undisturbed in the coral reefs surrounding Vanuatu for thousands of years.
Carp is one of the most adaptable fish. It was introduced to Wales started as early as the 1300’s. Today, Carp thrive in most rivers and lakes in the country.
The Bundu people of Zambia believe the Zambezi River has a spirit called Nyami Nyami. This spirit brings them fish to eat, one of the most treasured being the Newbwe.
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