Australia | Australia

Kiwi spearfisher kills Gus the Groper, Sydney’s iconic blue fish

Australian documentary maker says fish is not Gus


Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

A 26-year-old Kiwi is being fingered as the culprit behind the killing of Sydney’s most beloved fish.

Divers and locals alike have been left distraught after the decades-old protected blue groper was speared by a fisherman in front of beachgoers inside a marine reserve.

Police say the man responsible for the slaughter was a 26-year-old from New Zealand, according to the Daily Mail.

New South Wales marine police were called to Cronulla’s Oak Park on December 30 after reports of alleged illegal spearfishing.

The fisherman was questioned by police and fined $500 for killing the fish in a no-fishing zone.

The Daily Mail said moments after the killing, appalled locals saw the man, his wetsuit stained with blood, posing for a trophy picture with the slain 40-year-old fish.

Oak Park local Tenille Piek said her parents witnessed the shocking event.

Piek said the man pulled the groper out of the water “triumphantly” and showed off his killing without realising he could be fined.

“My mother was the first person to approach the man requesting to take his photo,” she said.

Her family had swum with Gus for 30 years.

Another local who saw the event unfold claimed the fisherman was “hurling abuse at locals” as he walked past him.

💔 Heartfelt tribute to Gus, the amiable blue groper 💙🐟 Gus, you were more than just a diving buddy. You were a true...

Posted by Abyss Scuba Diving on Sunday, December 31, 2023

The plot thickens

But according to the NZ Herald, wildlife documentary maker David Ireland has told the Daily Mail Australia that the dead fish is not, in fact, Gus.

Ireland said Gus was bigger than the fish shown in photos and also had a distinctive scar on his tail from a previous spearfishing encounter.

The 76-year-old ran a nearby dive shop and befriended the fish in the 1980s when he was teaching diving. He said Gus was able to instantly pick him out from other divers.

“Eventually he was so tame, I could put my arms around him like a puppy dog and pat him ... I named him Gus, and that went on for decades,” Ireland told the news outlet.