Stunning new scorpionfish discovered


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Stunning new scorpionfish discovered

Stellate scorpionfish,  Scorpaenodes barrybrowni . Image by Barry Brown.

This gorgeous scorpionfish is a new species discovered by Smithsonian scientists in the deep-reef waters of the island of Curaçao in the Caribbean. The fish was captured with the aid of the robotic arms of the team’s manned submersible Curasub, which was used in the expedition.

The new discovery has been named Scorpaenodes barrybrowni in honour of freelance photographer Barry Brown. Barry has worked with scientists on the Smithsonian’s Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP), taking photographs of the hundreds of fish and invertebrates captured alive during the project. The fish has been given the common name of the Stellate scorpionfish, due to its star-shaped yellowish spots and the radiating pigment markings accentuating its eyes.

Found at depths of between 95–160m, it’s the deepest living member of its genus in the western Atlantic Ocean.

 The Godzilla goby,   Varicus lacerta , which the Smithsonian team discovered earlier this year. Image by Barry Brown.  The Godzilla goby,  Varicus lacerta , which the Smithsonian team discovered earlier this year. Image by Barry Brown.

Earlier this year a colourful new goby species was discovered with DROP in the southern Caribbean.  It was named Varicus lacerta — the species name translates as ‘lizard’, due to the reptilian appearance of the fish. It was given the common name of Godzilla goby due to the multiple rows of recurved canine teeth in each jaw. 

The manned submersible Curasub reaches depths up to 300m in search of tropical marine fishes and invertebrates. As a result, it provides new information on the fauna that inhabits poorly studied deep-reef ecosystems.

“Stay tuned for more new discoveries,” says Carole Baldwin, lead scientist at DROP, who co-described both the new species in the open access journal ZooKeys. “We have only scratched the surface of our understanding of the biodiversity of tropical deep reefs.”