Pacific Abyss shows discovery of new fish species

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Expeditions for two BBC documentaries have uncovered up to 15 new species fish.

Dives down into the rarely explored 'twilight zone' of the Pacific Ocean uncovered thirteen new species during the filming of 'Pacific Abyss'.

Meanwhile, two species of fish believed to be new to science were discovered during an expedition into the Guyana rainforest, documented by the BBC in ~Lost Land of the Jaguar .

Pacific AbyssThe twilight zone of the Pacific Ocean is beyond the reach of the average scuba diver, ranging from depths of 60 to 150 metres (200 to 500ft). It is the area between that which light penetrates, and the depths which it doesn t.

However, on reefs in Micronesia, using latest equipment and restricted dive times, a team of researchers descended down for the BBC s documentary Pacific Abyss.

Among the newly discovered species was a highly sought-after damselfish that team-member Dr Richard Pyle first sighted over 10 years ago, with various sightings reported since.

You can watch Pacific Abyss on the BBC's iPlayer service.

However, this was the first time that specimens had been caught " and in honour of the series, Dr Pyle named the fish Chromis abyssus.

Regular readers may recall that Practical Fishkeeping covered the description of this species in January 2008. (See Five marine damselfishes described, News, January 7, 2008).

Several more new Chromis species have also been described from the expedition, along with at least one new species of basslet (Plectranthias sp.), a hawkfish and a butterflyfish.

Lost Land of the JaguarThe largely undisturbed rainforest of Guyana was the location of BBC documentary Lost Land of the Jaguar. During their six-week expedition, the research team believe they may have uncovered two species of fish new to science.

In a short time, we caught hundreds of species , 10% of which may be new to science. It was unreal, unbelievable, zoologist Dr George McGavin told the BBC.

Among the new species candidates is a small banded characin (Hemiodus sp.), which was netted near the research teams base camp. A parasitic catfish of the genus Vandellia " to which the renown Candiru belong " was also discovered.

Catching is the easy bit, the hard bit is going back to the lab and examining the species, comparing them to collections and books - seeing if they are new to science. One hour in the field can equal hundreds of hours in the lab, said Dr McGavin.