New species of neon fish emerges from the "twilight zone"
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 80 percent of the world's oceans remain unexplored – so it's not surprising that new species keep turning up from the deep. Now researchers from the California Academy of Science (CAS) have discovered a new species of fish that looks pretty hard to miss with its neon green, pink and yellow coloring.
The new fish was collected from reefs at St. Paul's Rocks, an archipelago off the coast of Brazil, at a depth of about 400 ft (120 m). That places it in what some scientists call the "twilight zone" – the region of the ocean below the range of most divers but not as deep as robotic submarines go to. As a result, this area remains relatively unexplored.
While trying to rectify that issue, the CAS divers stumbled onto this vivacious fish. It was found that males are yellow in color with bright pink stripes, while females seem to be mostly a blood-orange color. While that might seem a bit too flamboyant for natural selection to favor, the researchers say that's not the case at those depths.
"Fishes from the twilight zone tend to be pink or reddish in color," says Hudson Pinheiro, an author of a study describing the new species. "Red light doesn't penetrate to these dark depths, rendering the fishes invisible unless illuminated by a light like the one we carry while diving."
After getting it back to the lab (possibly using the CAS's SubCAS device to safely transport the specimens to the surface), the team examined the animal's anatomy and DNA to determine that it was indeed a brand new species. In honor of its technicolor skin, it was dubbed Tosanoides aphrodite, after the Greek goddess of love and beauty.
"This is one of the most beautiful fishes I've ever seen," says Luiz Rocha, an author of the study. "It was so enchanting it made us ignore everything around it."
So far the new fish has only been spotted in this one small speck of the Atlantic Ocean. Tosanoides aphrodite joins a few other new fish species discovered in recent years, including three new species of snailfish found in the Atacama Trench, and another that just happens to be the deepest-dwelling fish ever found.
The research was published in the journal Zookeys.
Source: California Academy of Sciences