Tuesday 3 April 2012

New species of Deepwater Tilefish from the Philippines.

Tilefish are burrow-dwelling Perch found in tropical and warm-temperate waters in the Western Pacific, South China Sea, Indian Ocean, Red Sea and west coast of Africa. They can be divided into two groups; deepwater and shallow-water Tilefish, though some experts do not think the shallow-water species are true Tilefish. Deepwater species typically inhabit burrows in muddy sediments at between 90 and 200 m, though some species have been found at up to 600 m.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 28 March 2012, James Dooley of the Department of Biology at Adelphi University and Yukio Iwatsuki of the Division of Fisheries Sciences at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Miyazaki, describe a new species of Deepwater Tilefish from the northern Philippines.

The news species was originally discovered by Mr Jiro Saito, a Japanese angler, who caught and ate two specimens (Deepwater Tilefish are considered a delicacy in many Asian countries). He also photographed one of the specimens and put the photograph online, where it was seen by one of the authors of the new study. Fortunately he was able to catch and supply two further specimens once alerted to the importance of the discovery. The new species of Tilefish was named Branchiostegus saitoi in his honor.

Branchiostegus saitoi. Dooley & Iwatsuki (2012).

Branchiostegus saitoi is a largish Perciform Fish, over 300 mm in length and weighing over 1 kg. It has a reddish upper body and pinkish lower parts, a golden patch with a central white area behind the gills, an orange upper lip and golden irises. It's dorsal fin is pinkish with a yellow upper margin, and it has a prominent pre-dorsal ridge otherwise seen only in one species of West African Tilefish.