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Scientists dive deep to discover new fish species at 150 meters

Brianne’s Groppo (Grammatonotus brianne). Photo by Luiz Rocha.

  • The new species, discovered during an expedition in 2014, belongs to a group of fish called groppos that are typically found at depths of over 100 meters, according to a new study.
  • Finding a new species of groppo without the use of submarines or other indirect methods is surprising, scientists say, and makes this the deepest new fish discovery done by diving to date.
  • The team has named the pink-and-yellow-hued fish Brianne’s Groppo or Grammatonotus brianne after co-author Brian Greene’s wife, Brianne Atwood.

Scientists have discovered a new species of strikingly colored fish at a depth of 150 meters in the West Pacific, off the coast of Batangas, Luzon, Philippine Islands.

The new species, discovered during an expedition in 2014, belongs to a group of fish called groppos that are typically found at depths of a few hundred meters, scientists write in a new study published in ZooTaxa.

Finding a new species of groppo without the use of submarines or other indirect methods is surprising, scientists say, and makes this the deepest new fish discovery done by diving to date.

“Most species in this group are only ever collected or observed by submarines,” co-author Luiz Rocha of the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) told Mongabay. “Even though we were expecting new species, we always thought fishes on this group would be deeper than the depths we reach. We knew it was a new species immediately after we collected it, it’s very distinctive.”

 

The team has named the pink-and-yellow-hued fish Brianne’s Groppo or Grammatonotus brianne after co-author Brian Greene’s wife, Brianne Atwood. Although rarely encountered, the fish appears to be common in the Batangas Province region from where its specimens were collected, the authors write.

“The reason why it remained undiscovered is not because it’s rare, but rather, because it’s habitat is almost never sampled,” Rocha said. “Submarines are too expensive, and there are very few scientists in the world that have the training and equipment to safely reach those depths.”

Rocha added that the habitat of Briane’s Groppo seems to be threatened by sedimentation. “When we got to that depth, we were really surprised to see the reef was covered with a thin layer of sediment,” he said. “The reason for that is likely coastal deforestation and increased erosion, including from a large quarry nearby.”

Brianne’s Groppo (Grammatonotus brianne). Photo by Luiz Rocha.

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