Two new fish identified from Indo-Pacific coral reefs

a20087951741New fish is psychadelica” (Seattle Times, Feb 28th 2008)

There are 320 known species of anglerfish, and Ted Pietsch can describe each one down to the number of spines on its dorsal fin. So, when the picture from Indonesia flopped into his e-mail, his pulse started pounding.

“I pretty much freaked out,” the University of Washington fish biologist said.

With its flattened face, undulating stripes and turquoise-rimmed eyes that peer straight ahead, this fish looked like something out of a fever dream — and like nothing Pietsch had ever seen before. Now, after a year of lab work, DNA analysis and a race halfway around the globe, he and his colleagues have confirmed the find as a new species. And they have given the 4-inch fish a name that fits its style: psychedelica.

“This is such an amazingly different fish that people immediately get excited when they see it,” Pietsch said.

The first to lay eyes on the new species were commercial divers on the small island of Ambon, at the eastern edge of the Indonesian archipelago. The owners of Maluku Divers discreetly circulated photos early last year to see if anyone could identify the unfamiliar fish. The photos made their way to Jack Randall, a famed ichthyologist at Honolulu’s Bishop Museum. (Read more)

afangblenny-470x01Fang Blenny has coat of many colours” (SMH, March 3rd 2008)

A MASTER of disguise has been uncovered living in Australian waters. The blue-striped fangblenny is the first fish found to be able to change its colour at will to mimic a variety of other fish.

Its repertoire of colour changes includes olive, orange, and black and electric blue, and it appears to use colour vision to achieve its incognito exploits, new research shows.

University of Queensland biologist, Karen Cheney, said that her examination of the little fish’s eyes showed they should be able to detect different hues. They also have a habit of curling their tail around to touch their head, so they can see their body. “It is possible that fangblennies can view some of their own colouration,” Dr Cheney said.

The only other creature known to be able to imitate other species is the mimic octopus, which alters its colour and shape to resemble lionfish, flatfish and sea snakes. Dr Cheney and her colleagues had studied the habits of fangblennies on coral reefs in Australia and Indonesia. Their results are published in the journal Proceedings Of The Royal Society.

For food, fangblennies dart out and attack larger reef fish, nipping off tiny pieces of their fins, scales or mucus. In olive mode they tend to hang out in shoals of similarly coloured damselfish, and in orange mode they mingle with yellow anthias. (Read More)

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