About

About Me

My name is Raymond Simpson. I am originally from New York, but I now live in Charleston, SC. I have always had a diverse range of interests, from astronomy, history, and biology, but the marine environment has always been my specialty. From an early age, I remember drawing fishes from Wheeler’s “Fishes of the World”, which I borrowed from the library so much I felt like I owned it. I was always quick to buy the latest field guide, and as I got older I was always on the lookout for new information on new species and biodiversity. I focused more on the western Atlantic mostly due to the availability of books for that region, but also because of it’s diverse fauna. I also studied the eastern Pacific to a lesser extent, mostly because of the faunal connection between the two regions.

I went to college first at Marist College (as undecided) but soon transferred to Coastal Carolina University, where I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Marine Science. I moved down to Charleston, where I took Masters courses at the College of Charleston. In the time I’ve lived in SC, I’ve done an internship at Baruch Marine Lab where I published a field guide to fishes of North Inlet, SC, worked in the Grice Marine Laboratory fish collection, and have done fish taxonomy work under Dr. Antony Harold (GML). All the while I have been doing fish illustrations with the goal of making a website that fullfills both a scientific and artistic purpose. This website will hopefully evolve over time as it grows and the information content increases. I hope to be able to connect with other experts and add more to it over time. I would also like to be able to work with a fish collection in the future, as I think that is the ideal career for someone with my educational background and skillset. I have other interests in other fields, especially in entomology where I maintain a small insect collection. I also have an interest in marine mollusks (focusing on the New World fauna). Anything having to do with taxonomy and biogeography is interesting to me.

Currently (as of 2013), I am attending Yale University where I am in the PhD program for Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. I am working under Dr. Thomas Near in fish systematics, where I am looking to combine alpha taxonomy with modern molecular methodology in order to clarify the evolutionary relationships between fish species. I am working on the taxonomy and biogeography of the percid Sander vitreus and also on the phylogeny of the seabasses (Serranidae).

My Illustrations

The personal side of this site is a showcase for my fish illustrations. I am entering into the field of scientific illustration, and I’m trying to establish myself in the sea of other artists out there. Most of the work on this site is mix of pencil drawings, both black-and-white and colored pencil. The species with distinctive color patterns are often rendered in colored pencil, while the drabber fishes are rendered in pencil. My work is done by hand and scanned into an image editor to make edges crisper and the background white. I have experience with PC-based painter programs, but prefer working by hand. I have also done fishes with pastel, but those are not online.

Many of my drawings are from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s and are not up to the quality of the more recent illustrations as far as accuracy or rendering. Many will be used as placeholders until an improved version is drawn. Watermarks are not indicating the date drawn.

Purpose of the Site

I hope that the site will be of use to anyone with an interest in fishes, and that it can serve a dual purpose of advertising my work and helping people with the identification of fishes from the western Atlantic. I am very familiar with the many internet taxonomic websites (WORM’s, ToL, EoL, Wikipedia, Wikispecies, etc.) and the site focusing on fish taxonomy (Fishbase, Catalog of Fishes, Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific, etc.), but the more “general” sites tend to lack information on anything but the more common species. There is useful information scattered on these websites and in the literature, but the problem is that unless you have a university library available, a good half of the western Atlantic fauna (probably more like 60-70%) is poorly known. Images of these species are even more rare.

So my goal is not only to have the widely known species represented, but also the mostly unknown groups that are buried in the primary literature and haven’t been photographed since. I hope to make my site as useful as Fishbase from on online perspective, but give the information content of the FAO Living Marine Resources guide for every species of fish in the W. Atlantic basin. This is a lofty goal, but I see this as a ongoing work in progress. I think the result will be a thorough regional guide to a fish fauna that will inspire other people to do the same with their region.

The Species Pages

I tried to make this as easy to navigate as possible; listing by taxonomic family and ordering species in that family alphabetically. Each species is grouped in drop-down menus that allow a person to browse families easily and quickly. When clicking the scientific/common name of the species, a species page will be displayed with information unique to that species:

1. On the top is the illustration with a zoom in box if you scroll over the image. All images are copyrighted and watermarked for security. The proper scientific name, describing author, and year described are shown.
2. “Identification” section displays meristic characters (fin rays, vertebrae, scale counts, etc.) and other diagnostic characters to define that species.
3. “Color” describe the range of color pattern variation.
4. “Size” gives a range of average size or a maximum known size for that species.
5. “Habitat” gives a general idea of the depth range, substrate, and miscellaneous habitat information.
6. “Range” is a verbal description of the range map for that species, which is also presented visually for some species.
7. Finally, “references” cites all literature/webpages that were used to compile the information contained in the species account.
8. “Other notes” provides additional taxonomic information, similar species diagnoses, or any other information not included in previous sections.

New species accounts and illustrations will be added as they become available. Thumbnails of new illustrations are displayed on the homepage, and new species accounts (with or without illustrations) are also displayed on the homepage. Species are added randomly, and some are only displaying species images and names. The full account will be finished in when I get around to them.

Any comments, corrections, or inquiries regarding illustrations should be directed to my email (see the Contact info).

Thank you for visiting!