Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New fishes galore at Papahānaumokuākea, including Obamafish

You want to find new stuff? Look where you haven’t looked before.
When Steven Perlman and Ken Wood of the National Tropical Botanical Garden started rappelling down the sheer faces of Hawaiian verdant cliffs, they found dozens of previously unknown plants.

The plants were always there, but nobody had ever used ropework techniques to inspect those cliffs. 

(Image: the new marine butterfly Prognathodes basabei , located 180 feet down in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Credit: NOAA.)

So it’s no big surprise that when research scientists used previously-unavailable deep diving equipment to inspect unprobed ocean depths of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, they found cool stuff.

The most recent announcement is the find of a gorgeous new butterfly fish.

A week ago, researchers announced they’ll be naming a different new fish species, which is in the genus Tosanoides, after President Barack Obama. 

(It’s not the first Obamafish. There’s a Tennessee River darter called Etheostoma obama. )

The timing of that announcement of the newest Obamafish was linked to Obama’s visit to the Islands and to the massive convention of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. 

(Image: The unnamed Obamafish in genus Tosanoides. Credit: Richard Pyle.) 

The new Obama Tosanoides will be officially named later this year in a scientific paper.

And there have been some other new fishes found around Papahānaumokuākea. The great diver and NOAA naturalist Randy Kosaki had this to say about it:

"Discoveries such as this underscore how poorly explored and how little we know about our deep coral reefs. Virtually every deep dive we do takes place on a reef that no human being has ever seen.”

© Jan TenBruggencate 2016

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