We’ve all heard the saying, ‘There are plenty of fish in the sea,” but now, you can count one more magnificent species to the list – the rose-veiled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa).
The stunning, rainbow-hued fish was discovered during a January 2022 expedition led by the California Academy of Sciences‘ Hope for Reefs initiative, which included researchers from the Maldives Marine Research Institute (MMRI), University of Sydney and Chicago’s Field Museum.
Going down to 122 metres (100-500 feet), it was local scientist Ahmed Najeeb who discovered the colourful fish and had the honour of naming it.
This is the first fish species to be named by a local Maldivian researcher and Finifenmaa in local Dhivehi means “rose”, which is a tribute to the pink hues of the fish as well as the colour of the Maldives’ national flower.
Say hi to Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa (Rose-veiled fairy wrasse), named after the🇲🇻National flower, the Pink rose! One of the first species to be named in Dhivehi, our local language— Maldives Marine Research Institute (@MMRI_Maldives) March 9, 2022
📷@FishGuyKai 📷@CoralReefFish @FishMcFishyface 📷@bappunajeeb https://t.co/tOcr28OvPF#NewFishAlert pic.twitter.com/SExP7PiX3Z
Funnily enough, the rose-veiled fairy wrasse was originally mistaken as the Cirrrhilabrus rubrisquamis, but later confirmed by DNA analyses to be a separate species from subtle physical differences, which included spinal heights and numbers of scales, among other things.
“What we previously thought was one widespread species of fish, is actually two different species, each with a potentially much more restricted distribution,” said Yi-Kai Tea, a University of Sydney doctoral student who co-authored the report on Zookeys.
“This exemplifies why describing new species, and taxonomy in general, is important for conservation and biodiversity management.”
Keep an eye out at your local aquarium for the Cirrhilabrus fish and rose-veiled fairy wrasse, which are apparently already widely traded as aquarium fish.
“Though the species is quite abundant and therefore not currently at a high risk of overexploitation, it’s still unsettling when a fish is already being commercialised before it even has a scientific name,” said Luiz Rocha of the Hope for Reefs initiative. “It speaks to how much biodiversity there is still left to be described from coral reef ecosystems.”
Maldives Marine Research Institute introduced Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa (Rose-veiled fairy wrasse), one of the first species to be named in our mother tongue! pic.twitter.com/FproEcZSS9— MV+ (@mvplusmedia) March 9, 2022
And if you do happen to see one outside of the Maldives, be sure to ask how it was acquired – as many exotic marine fish are caught unethically in the wild.
Want to know more? Geek out on the newly discovered rose-veiled fairy wrasse on Zookeys.
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