Saturday 25 May 2013

Four new species of Angler Fish from New Zealand.

Anglerfish (Lophiiformes) are highly specialized Teleost Fish, related to Cod but with highly modified bodies due to their specialized lifestyle. Anglerfish are ambush predators, luring prey within reach with a special organ called the 'illicium', which is comprised of the three foremost spines of the dorsal fin, which have moved forward to between the Fish's eyes, and which can be moved freely, this bears a fleshy growth at its tip, which can be wiggled about to act as a lure to prey animals. In some species this lure is bioluminescent. Some Anglerfish are benthic, living on reefs and on the seafloor, others are pelagic, living in open water, particularly in the ocean deeps.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 5 March 2013, Hsuan-Ching Ho of the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium at the Institute of Marine Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology at National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan and Clive Roberts and Andrew Stewart of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, describe four new species of Anglerfish from the waters around New Zealand, during a review of Anglerfish of the genus Chaunax, which are members of the Chaunacidae, bottom-dwelling deepwater fish with bioluminescent lure, often called Sea Toads, Coffinfish or Frogmouths.

The first new species described is given the name Chaunax flavomaculatus, the Yellowspot Frogmouth. It is a 105-122 mm pinkish Anglerfish with yellow spots, found near Great Barrier Island and Moa Seamount, off the northeast coast of North Island, at depths of 353–375 m.

Chaunax flavomaculatus, the Yellowspot Frogmouth, photographed in (A) ventral and (B) dorsal views, with (C) line drawing in lateral view. Ho, Roberts & Stewart (2013).

The second new species is named Chaunax mulleus, the Redshoes Frogmouth. It is a 112-161 mm pink and white Anglerfish from depths of 720-1100 m found over a wide area centered on New Zealand.

Chaunax mulleus, the Redshoes Frogmouth, photographed in (A) dorsal, (B) lateral and (C) ventral views, with (D) a line drawing of the Fish in lateral view. Ho, Roberts & Stewart (2013).

Map showing the distribution of Chaunax flavomaculatus, the Yellowspot Frogmouth (circles), Chaunax mulleus, the Redshoes Frogmouth (triangles) and the previously described Chaunax nudviventer (squares). Ho, Roberts & Stewart (2013).

The third new species is given the name Chaunax reticulatus, the Netted Frogmouth. It is a 30-188 mm  yellow and pink Anglerfish found at depths of 360-398 m on Three Kings Ridge, Norfolk Ridge and off the northeast coast of North Island.

Chaunax reticulatus, the Netted Frogmouth. (A) Photograph in ventral view. (B) Line drawing in lateral view. (C) Photograph in dorsolateral view. Ho, Roberts & Stewart (2013).

The final new species is named Chaunax russatus, the Red Coffinfish. It is a 115-233 mm brick-red Anglerfish, found over a considerable area of seafloor around New Zealand, at depths of 512-1200 m.

Chaunax russatus, the Red Coffinfish. (A) Photographed in dorsal view. (B) Detail of head. (C) Line drawing in lateral view. Ho, Roberts & Stewart (2013).

Map showing the distribution of Chaunax reticulatus, or Netted Frogmouth (triangles), Chaunax russatus, or Red Coffinfish (squares) and the previously described Chaunax penicillatus, or Pencil Coffinfish (circles). Ho, Roberts & Stewart (2013).

See also A cryptic Sea Snake from Australia, Building an artificial Coral Reef on Pulau Weh, Indonesia, A new species of Pufferfish form French PolynesiaNew species of Grenadier from Japan, and Head-Butting in Giant Bumphead Parrotfish.

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