Forcipiger wanai is a new species of longnose butterflyfish which was very recently described in the seminal, three-volume book Reef Fishes of the East Indies. Twenty five new species of reef fish were described in this book including dottybacks, dartfish and clingfish but it’s very rare for new species of butterflyfish to be described. Many of the new species including Forcipiger wanai were discovered living in the secluded water body known as Cenderawasih Bay in West Papua, where a trio of new Astreopora species were also recently described. Before we saw the pictures of Forcipiger wanai many reef fish enthusiasts were very excited to learn what this new species would look like and it certainly appears pretty distinct from the typical longnose butterflyfish species that is common and widespread.
Forcipiger wanai has the same general shape and coloration as the other two species of longnose butterflyfish, Forcipiger flavissimus and F. longirostris. However, whereas the first two members of the Forcipiger genus are solid yellow with differences in snout length, Forcipiger wanai has a dusky brownish-yellow coloration that fades to yellow-orange near the fins with a bright yellow band behind the black head marking.
Very few pictures exist of this highly localized species of longnose butterflyfish yet the juvenile Forcipiger wanai is really only just beginning to show the full adult coloration for the species which is far from the lemon yellow color of the other longnoses. It’s amazing that such macrofauna as large reef butterflyfish can still be discovered in this millenium and we look forward to more discoveries in secluded marine environments such as Cenderawasih Bay.