Sunday 30 June 2013

A new species of deepwater Goatfish from Vanuatu.

Goatfish are largish, often brightly coloured Fish in the Mullet Family, Mullidae (making them Perciformes). They are bottom feeding Fish that have deep, elongated bodies and whiskers which they use for probing sediments for invertebrate prey. Goatfish are highly prized as food Fish in many cultures.

In a paper published in the journal Zootaxa on 31 May 2013, Franz Uiblein of the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen and the South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity and Romain Causse of the Borea Research Unit at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, discuss the discovery of a new species of deepwater-dwelling Goatfish from Vunuatu in the South Pacific.

The new species is placed in the genus Upeneus, and given the specific name vanuatu, in reference to where it was discovered - making it the Vanuatu Goatfish. Upeneus vanuatu was discovered living in the waters off Espiritu Santo and Malo Islands, at depths of 191-321 m. This is only the fourth species in the genus to have been found living at depths in excess of 100 m, though since two of the other three species have been discovered since 2000, Ublein and Causse suggest that there may be more, undiscovered, deepwater species in this genus around the world. 

Upeneus vanuatu has an adult size of 80-100 mm, it is a rose-pink Fish with patterns of bars on its fins, these patterns being variable and possibly specific to the individual Fish. 

Upeneus vanuatu, 8.3 cm specimen caught of the island of Malo in Vanuatu. Uiblien & Causse (2013).

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