This 10-Year-Old Whiz-Kid From Perth Just Co-Wrote A CSIRO Research Paper

This 10-Year-Old Whiz-Kid From Perth Just Co-Wrote A CSIRO Research Paper
Image source: ABC News/Evelyn Manfield

In news that’s as cool as a sea cucumber, a 10-year-old kid from Perth just became one of the youngest Australians to have their name published in a scientific paper.

Rehan Somaweera and his father Ru were snorkeling at Perth’s Mettams Pool when he began to notice an interesting relationship between the Western Australia common octopus and brown-spotted wrasse. When octopuses are digging through the ground and searching for food, brown-spotted wrasses shadow them and feed off what items are left exposed.

Rehan’s father, an avid snorkeler and researcher, told ABC he had never noticed the two species interact with each other. But after his son made the observation, the pair spent a year watching and recording WA common octopus and brown-spotted wrasses in four different reefs in Perth.

The father-son combo then looked over their data and co-wrote a scientific paper for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Journal (CSIRO).

In the abstract of the paper they wrote: “A common feeding association among reef fishes involves nuclear and follower species, where the former disturbs the bottom, during which the latter opportunistically feeds on items exposed. Here, we report such interactions between Western Australian common octopuses (Octopus (cf) tetricus) and brown-spotted wrasse (Notolabrus parilus) observed on eight occasions while snorkeling at four temperate-water reefs along the coast of Perth in Western Australia.”

For someone that hasn’t even hit puberty or started high school yet, this is huge. The only other young Australian to have their name published in a research paper is Grace Fulton, a six-year-old Brisbane girl who aided her father with field research on a paper about owls native to South-East Queensland. She started her scientific endeavors when she was *checks notes* four. BRB, contemplating what I’ve been doing for the past 25 years on this moving space rock.

“Getting something in a well-received, international journal as your first ever publication when you’re 10 years old, I think that’s a big hit,” Ru Somaweera told the ABC.

“It’s not a massive research project but what was important, or what was exciting about this, is getting a child involved in actual research.”

Naturally, the budding octo-expert said he wants to be a scientist when he grows up. You can read the full report here.