Chrysiptera burtjonesi is a beautiful new species of damselfish which has just been described from the Solomon Islands. This damselfish is very special to me because as recently as a couple years ago I saw this fish in many habitats around the Solomon Islands and I knew it had to be a new species.
Like so many species in this genus the juveniles of C. burtjonesi are very brightly colored, in this case it’s neon blue with an orange posterior-ventral area including the pelvic, anal and caudal fin. As the fish grows it becomes distinctly greenish with a high body and pointed face which is almost reminiscent of a Chromis.
The juveniles and adults are so different in coloration that at first I thought they were different fish in the same habitat, which was nearly always a near shore, greenwater environment with pretty poor visibility. This is the same kind of greenwater habitat where the greytail angelfish and yellow form of the 8-line butterflyfish are usually found.
The freshly minted Chrysiptera burtjonesiC. papuensis belongs to a cluster of species in the C. oxycephala group of damselfish, but if you know where the fish is from it would be hard to confuse it with the teal blue Chrysiptera sinclairi from northern Papua New Guinea, or the gold colored from western PNG. It’s cool to see a fish we first recognized in the wild as being undescribed finally get an official name, finally bestowed upon it by Allen & Erdmann in the latest from the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.
Below is a selection of six closely related Chrysiptera species in juvenile form above, and adult appearance below: A) C. burtjonesi, Solomon Islands, B) C. ellenae, Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia, C) C. maurineae, Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia, D) C. oxycephala, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, E) C. papuensis, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, F) C. sinclairi, Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (G.R. Allen).