While surveying the waters surrounding the Maldives, scientists discovered a previously unknown fish with unusual rainbow colouration.
The new species, which has been given the scientific name Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa, was encountered by researchers at depths of between 40 and 70 metres. The name refers to the fish’s spectacular colouration and also to the pink rose, whose flower is the national symbol of the Maldives. Finifenmaa actually means rose in the local Dhivehi language.
Interestingly, there is another local aspect associated with the new species. Although the Maldives is famous for its extremely rich and diverse marine fauna, Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa is the first species described by a Maldivian researcher. Ahmed Najeeb published his work on the subject in the pages of ZooKeys magazine.
Until now, it has been foreign scientists who have described the species found in the Maldives, and this has happened without the involvement of local researchers. Even in the case of endemic species. This time is different and being part of something for the first time was really exciting. Especially having the opportunity to work alongside top ichthyologists on such a beautiful species – said Ahmed Najeeb, a biologist from the Maldives Marine Research Institute.
This phenomenal fish with rainbow colouration was first spotted in the 1990s. However, researchers misclassified it as an adult of the species Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis. It is worth noting that they described this different species based on a single individual found in the waters of the Chagos archipelago, which is located… 1,000 km south of the Maldives.
Juveniles of many species look similar, while adults have distinctive features.
A few months ago, Yi-Kai Tea received footage from Chagos that showed adults. They were very clearly different from the adults from the Maldives. It was then that we recognised that the species from the Maldives was new and different from Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis – said Luiz Rocha.
In their study, the researchers focused on the details of adults and juveniles, analysing the height of the spines supporting their dorsal fins, counting scales and cataloguing the colours of adult males. In contrast, adult females have a unique colouration pattern that includes light magenta, peach, orange pink and dark purple.
No doubt the discovery that Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa and rubrisquamis are two distinct species will help in their study, range determination and conservation.
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