We’re getting down to the last few days of this year’s fabulous Blue Harbor catalog which means it’s high time we start rounding up the best news of 2021, beginning with the new fish that came to light over the last 12 months. Two thousand twenty one had a very familiar group of fish getting the official stamp of approval from the scientific community but more than other years we saw a lot of revisions, species splitting and cryptic species getting a more formal species identification.
Almost like a plug and play algorithm, 2021 had a very familiar assortment of newly minted fish including three wrasses, an anthias, a Plectranthias, some gobies, blennies and a few damselfish. It’s worth mentioning that we didn’t cover every little nano goby or all of the colorless deepwater fish that got official species descriptions, but one category we wish we could do more work with is the species descriptions from older historical specimen collections – there was one prime example paper covering four new species of Plectranthias but all pictured specimens were from old preserved samples, with the pickled fish not really even informing our imagination as to what they might actually look like.
Three of this year’s formal taxonomic works had some interesting trivia associated with them, with two of the new species recognizing some MVPs of the aquarium world and two close friends, Vincent Chalias and Koji Wada, getting the honorifics from a fairy wrasse and a perchlet respectively. Of particular interest was the reclassification of the highly enigmatic Coniella and its missing pelvic fins getting rescheduled into the Cirrhilabrus fairy wrasse to which it so clearly belongs.
It’s not like you needed any reminder of the corona times we are living with but we couldn’t help but notice that last year we had to whittle down the best new fish species to 20, while this year we barely had ten noteworthy new marine fish to add to the lexicon and many of these were from previous expedition surveys and sample collections. We might see a future dip in new marine fish getting the taxonomic treatment but perhaps curators will find more unrecognized treasures in their archives to make up for it.