Coris flava is a new species of large wrasse from Réunion in the western Indian Ocean which belongs to a genus that we thought had been well documented already. Unlike other species of Coris wrasses, the new ‘Yellow Coris’ has eluded discovery because it was found at a shocking depth of 250 meters or more than 800 feet deep which is even beyond the depth of the most advanced mixed gas diving gear.
Due to their extremely deep habitat only two specimens of Coris flava have ever been collected and this was on two separate occasions many years ago in 2006 and 2012. The two fish look quite different as one specimen of Coris flava is an initial phase fish with a bluish white color overall and a yellow green patch of color on the dorsal area but the larger terminal phase male is the holotype upon which the description was made.
The large adult specimen measures 23 cm long or just under ten inches in standard length and is a bright golden yellow overall with red accents around the eyes, mouth and a pale rosey pink stripe stretching from the tip of the gill to the beginning of the caudal fin. The authors note how odd it was to discover Coris flava living in such an uncharacteristically deep environment compared to other Coris wrasse species – perhaps more exploration beyond the mesophotic zone might reveal more species richness of this genus living in habitats which are usually populated by a different assemblage of reef fish. [Fish Taxa]