A lucky catch: A tiny new fish, Haptoclinus dropi, from the southern Caribbean

June 5, 2013
This image shows the beautiful color pattern of the new species Haptoclinus dropi. The iridescence on the fins shows up, luminescing against the black background. Credit: D. Ross Robertson and Carole C. Baldwin

A new species of tiny blenniiform fish has been discovered in the biodiversity rich waters of the southern Caribbean. Haptoclinus dropi is only around 2cm in length with a beautiful color pattern that includes iridescence on the fins. The proposed common name of the species is four-fin blenny, due to the division of the dorsal fin into four sections, which is a distinguishing feature of the genus and unique among blenniiform fishes. The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.

This beautiful new species was discovered as a lucky bycatch during targeted specimen catching at 157-167 m depth off Curaçao as a part of the Smithsonian Institution's Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP). The new species, Haptoclinus dropi, gets its name from the project's abbreviation and is one of numerous new ray-finned emerging from this project.

For DROP expeditions the Substation Curaçao's manned submersible Curasub was used to catch specimens. While generally used as tourist attraction because it travels at much greater depths than divers can reach, the Curasub is also used for scientific marine research. Targeted are collected with the sub's two flexible, hydraulic arms, but very often small non-targeted fish are also caught in the process.

This image shows the Substation Curaçao's manned submersible Curasub which was used to catch specimens for the Smithsonian Institution's Deep Reef Observation Project. Credit: Barry Brown, Substation Curacao

"Below the depths accessible using scuba gear and above the depths typically targeted by deep-diving submersibles, tropical deep reefs are productive that science has largely missed. They are home to diverse assemblages of new and that we are only just beginning to understand," explains the lead author of the study Dr Carole Baldwin, Smithsonian Institution.

Explore further: Exploring Bonaire's deep reef by submarine

More information: Baldwin CC, Robertson RD (2013) A new Haptoclinus blenny (Teleostei, Labrisomidae) from deep reefs off Curaзao, southern Caribbean, with comments on relationships of the genus. ZooKeys 306: 71–81, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.306.5198

Related Stories

Exploring Bonaire's deep reef by submarine

May 29, 2013

In a submarine, IMARES Wageningen UR researchers Erik Meesters en Lisa Becking will explore the deep reef of Bonaire, an island in the Dutch Caribbean. They aim to map the biodiversity of their research location, take samples ...

Smithsonian scientists discover 7 new species of fish

February 4, 2011

Things are not always what they seem when it comes to fish -- something scientists at the Smithsonian Institution and the Ocean Science Foundation are finding out. Using modern genetic analysis, combined with traditional ...

New species of deep-sea catshark described from the Galapagos

March 7, 2012

Scientists conducting deep-sea research in the Galapagos have described a new species of catshark, Bythaelurus giddingsi, in the March 5 issue of the journal Zootaxa. The new shark is approximately a foot long and has a chocolate-brown ...

Rare species perform unique roles, even in diverse ecosystems

May 28, 2013

A new study, published 28 May in the open access journal PLOS Biology, has revealed the potential importance of rare species in the functioning of highly diverse ecosystems. Using data from three very different ecosystems—coral ...

New species of Sinamia discovered

November 6, 2012

According to a paper published in the latest issue of Vertebrata PalAsiatica 2012 (4), Dr. ZHANG Jiangyong, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, described a new species ...

Recommended for you

Gene "bookmarking" regulates the fate of stem cells

December 7, 2016

A protein that stays attached on chromosomes during cell division plays a critical role in determining the type of cell that stem cells can become. The discovery, made by EPFL scientists, has significant implications for ...

Atlas of the RNA universe takes shape

December 7, 2016

As the floor plan of the living world, DNA guides the composition of animals ranging from unicellular organisms to humans. DNA not only helps shepherd every organism from birth through death, it also plays an essential role ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.