Do you recall the rainbow fish with sparkly scales who taught generations of youngsters the value of sharing? The Rainbow Fish, a popular children’s book by Marcus Pfister, presents the story of how sharing the treasures we are given is a lovely gesture. Rainbow fish, while poetically renowned, actually exist in the real world. Scientists in the Maldives have formally identified a new species of rainbow-colored fish, Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa, and published their findings in ZooKeys.
According to their findings, the vividly colored fish reside in the ocean’s “twilight zone” in deep waters off the coast of the Maldives. These little fish have a flame-like appearance because to the colors yellow, red, orange, and violet. The fish was assumed to be the adult version of the red velvet fairy wrasse when it was first discovered in the 1990s (Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis). Recent study, however, has revealed that the rose-veiled fairy wrasse is a distinct species. It has a distinct look as well as a distinct DNA. In a statement, principal author and University of Sydney PhD student Yi-Kai Tea explains, “What we previously assumed was one broad species of fish is actually two separate species, each with a potentially far more restricted distribution.”
“This shows why new species descriptions, and taxonomy in general, are critical for conservation and biodiversity management.”
The rose-veiled fairy wrasse is also the first Maldivian fish to be publicly described. The description procedure results in the creation of a new species. “Foreign scientists have traditionally documented species found in the Maldives without much input from local scientists, including those that are endemic,” explains co-author and Maldives Marine Research Institute biologist Ahmed Najeeb. “This time is different, and being a part of anything for the first time has been incredibly thrilling, especially working alongside top ichthyologists on such an exquisite and lovely species.”
The scientific name of the new species is likewise derived from the indigenous Dhivehi language. Finifenmaa means “rose,” which is appropriate for a pink fish from an island whose national flower is the rose. This study is a cooperation with the California Academy of Sciences’ Hope for Reefs Initiative.
Meet the rose-veiled fairy wrasse, or Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa, a newly classified Maldivian fish species.
A Maldivian scientist is the first to properly characterize the fish.
h/t: [Smithsonian Magazine, Big Think, Moss and Fog]