A tiny but beautiful new blenny species has been discovered off the coast of Curacao in the Caribbean. Named Haptoclinus dropi after the Smithsonian Institution’s Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP) where the new fish was discovered.
The proposed common name of the species is the Four-fin blenny, due to the division of the dorsal fin into four sections. The research team notes this is a distinguishing feature of the genus and unique among blenniiform fishes.
The tiny fish measures in only around 0.8 inches (2 cm) in length and has a beautiful color pattern that includes iridescence on the fins. These fish were accidentally captured during targeted catching at 515-550 feet (157 – 167 m) depth off the island of Curaçao.
“Below the depths accessible using scuba gear and above the depths typically targeted by deep-diving submersibles, tropical deep reefs are productive ocean ecosystems that science has largely missed. They are home to diverse assemblages of new and rare species that we are only just beginning to understand,” said Dr Carole Baldwin from Smithsonian Institution, first author of a paper describing the new blenny fish in the journal ZooKeys.
Targeted fish specimens are typically collected from submarines during expeditions like this, but many times small non-targeted fish are also caught in the process.