Monday, January 9, 2017

A new basslet: Tosanoides obama

Tosanoides obama - Image from publication

This might be old news to some already but I am catching up on my holiday vacation.

A new fish of the large family Serranidae was first discovered and collected on a dive to 90 m at the Kure Atoll, 1900 km northwest of Honolulu. Kure is the northernmost of the Hawaiian Islands, and is the highest latitude coral atoll in the world. Deep coral reefs at depths of 50 to 150 m, in the so-called "Twilight Zone" (also known as mesophotic coral ecosystems), are among the most poorly explored of all marine ecosystems. Located deeper than divers using conventional scuba gear can safely venture, these reefs represent a new frontier for coral-reef research.

The new species was named obama in honor of Barack H. Obama, 44th President of the United States, in recognition of his efforts to protect and preserve the natural environment, particularly through his decision to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument several weeks after the discovery of this new species in this region.

For the experts: The new species Tosanoides obama is described from two specimens collected at a depth of 90–92 m off Kure Atoll and Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It differs from the other two species of this genus in life color and in certain morphological characters, such as number of pored lateral-line scales, pectoral-fin rays, snout length, anterior three dorsal-fin spine lengths, dorsal-fin profile, and other characters. There are also substantial genetic differences from the other two species of Tosanoides (d ≈ 0.10 in mtDNA cytochrome oxidase I). The species is presently known only from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

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