Trivia question - it's a cock-up

To: "'Geoffrey Dabb'" <>, <>
Subject: Trivia question - it's a cock-up
From: "Shaun Bagley" <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 22:33:59 +1000



With all due respect (as a lawyer, Geoffrey,  you will know what follows next), the trivia question was indeed a cock-up, not to mention the answer proffered.  M’lud, I would submit that the learned colleague from chambers in Upper Narrabundah – and the court’s attention is drawn  to the proximity of Rocky Knob to this location, not to mention the adjectival extravagance of the suburban descriptor – is confused as to the jurisdiction of this particular court.  COG is not CPD; for the uninitiated, the Court of Ornithological Geography is not the Court of Piscine Distribution . Methinks, my learned colleague has overstepped the bounds of ornithological intellectual pursuit. But then it just goes to show that the exception proves the rule that great minds do not think alike...


From: Geoffrey Dabb [
Sent: Friday, 11 July 2008 10:45 AM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Trivia question - it's a cock-up


The question was:  Which species has a natural range from India (where large numbers are raised in captivity) to Japan, and south through Indonesia to New Guinea and Northern Australia?


Benj gave a learned summary of the affinities of different finch groups and Julian Teh and Shaun B also explored, knowledgeably, the finchy options.  Muriel Brookfield was very wary about the whole question, sniffing the air for possible danger.  [That reminds me.  I don’t think I reported on the Great Peafowl-trapping Experiment.  A couple of amiable rangers set up a trap at the base of the roosting tree, a great construction of gauzy fabric.  The wily pavids would have none of it, scowling at the device from a few metres away before springing into the air to fly over it to their roosts in the upper branches.  All 12 are still at large.]


Here is the answer:




Despite its local reputation as a distinctively Australian animal, practically the national dish, this ‘Barramundi’ (there is another herring-related species of the same name) is widespread in SE Asia.  The Encyclopedia of Indian Natural History says ‘Among the estuarine perches, Lates calcarifer is undisputedly the most popular food fish in the Indian subcontinent ...’.


 I have a little book, The Best of Thai Seafood, which says:  ‘Sea perch is pla kapong khao, Lates calcarifer, which is also called cock-up, barramundi, giant or silver sea perch, and two-finned or white sea bass in English’.


The Northern Territory Acting Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries recently issued a media release declaring that “The barramundi is as Australian as Vegemite and meat pies, and something must be done to protect its iconic status”.  The new official name for a barramundi is ‘Barramundi’.  However, the acting NT minister wants imported barramundi to be labelled instead with the name it bears in its country of origin, such as ‘Asian sea bass’ or whatever.  We need to get Christidis & Boles to speak to this bloke.  He is swimming in the opposite direction to all those people working to reduce the confusion caused by different names for the  same thing.


Another name for Lates calcarifer, occasionally met with, is ‘Cock-up’.  This came from the Malay ‘Kakap’, being, apparently, a name for any large fish in Indonesia, Malaysia etc.  However ‘Cock-up’ is not mentioned in the new standard list even as an obsolete name.  In the Macquarie, a ‘cock-up’ is defined as ‘a totally mismanaged event’, hence ‘Giant Cock-up’ is quite likely to deter the purchaser who sees that label on a tray of fillets at the Fyshwick More-or-less Fresh Food Markets.  Just what the NT government wants, I suppose.   




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