A deep water anthias, to be honorably named after the president, was recently discovered by Richard Pyle and Brian Greene on June 5, 2016. Richard Pyle recognized an unfamiliar school of fish in the newly expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
Pyle collected the first male off of Kure Atoll in the Hawaiian archipelago while Greene collected a female specimen a few days later off of another atoll 155 miles from Kure. The anthias was sighted 330 feet deep in the mesophotic twilight zone.
Tosanoides sp. ‘Obama’
The anthias is characterized by lobed dorsal and anal fin with thread fin extenstions protruding from the caudal fin. The most notable trait is the yellow spot on the dorsal fin which reminded Pyle of President Obama’s campaign logo.
This newly discovered anthias in the genus Tosanoides is the first of its genus to be found outside of Japanese waters. Which makes a great example of the many endemic species found in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
Although the official name of the fish will be announced later in the year, its name is quite suitable considering that President Obama expanded the monument to roughly the same size as the Gulf of Mexico. Since thousands of marine animals (most are endemic, such as the Hawaiian Monk seal) make their home within the monument, the importance of protecting this area cannot be overstated.
Being that the Hawaiian islands are the most isolated land mass in the world may give reasons as to why this specimen is so morphologically different than its other two relatives within the genus. This anthias along with other recently discovered fish in the monument are exciting discoveries that give way to other new deepwater findings within the Hawaiian archipelago.
Hopefully we learn more about the genus Tosanoides in the near future and continue to discover their relatives and the part they play in the most unique ecosystem on the planet. The example President Obama has made, and this exciting new fish could give conservation programs some much needed momentum in these days of coral bleaching and mass over-fishing.