It’s official, Gramma dejongi is no longer a Cuban endemic reef fish and therefore no longer confined to the embargo dropnet of the United States. More importantly, the fact that Gramma dejongi occurs outside of Cuba means it is likely somewhat well distributed and should have less to fear from local extinction due to the ravenous appetites of that dreaded lionfish invasion.
The discovery of Gramma dejongi happened in Little Cayman Island, 150 miles south of Cuba, based on a single individual that was very much attached to its home territory as it was repeatedly observed in the same location. This particular Gramma dejongi was estimated to be 60mm in length, so just shy of 2.5 inches and larger than any recorded specimen of this incredible new species.
The sighting of a single individual at Little Cayman does not necessarily imply that populations of the species necessarily occur in the region, but it does support the notion that the species could pelagically make its way Caribbean Islands around Cuba. Don’t get your hopes up about this species being collected for aquariums from the Cayman Islands just yet.
Despite there being no embargo in place there, the Cayman Islands are heavily dependend on tourism and diving for its economy and it is not likely to issue collecting permits for the harvest of this gem of a reef fish, at least not unless a real population of them is discovered living there. Even then, aquarium fish are not collected from this region so any interested part is going to have a mountain of paperwork in front of them, if it is even possible by that country’s law. [Springer Link via Advanced Aquarist]