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Newly Discovered Coral-Reef Fish Species Named After Outgoing US President

Dec 23, 2016 11:25 AM EST

Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama is well known for its constant move to protect nature and wildlife. Due to this, scientific communities keep on honoring the president by naming newly discovered species of animals after him.

In addition to a trapdoor spider, a parasitic hairworm, an extinct lizard and speckled freshwater darter, Obama now has a colorful coral-reef species named after him.

The new species, described in a paper published in the journal Zookeys, is a small pink and yellow coral-reef species that can only be found within the marine protected area in Hawaii. Discovered during the June 2016 NOAA expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the Tosanoides obama has spot on the male that reminds the researchers of Obama's campaign logo.

"We decided to name this fish after President Obama to recognize his efforts to protect and preserve the natural environment, including the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea," said Richard Pyle, a scientist at Bishop Museum and lead author of the paper, in a press release. "This expansion adds a layer of protection to one of the last great wilderness areas on Earth."

Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument last August. Now covering 582,578 square miles, the marine national monument in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is considered to be the largest permanent marine protected area on Earth.

Tosanoides Obama was first discovered and collected during a dive at the so-called Twilight Zone of the Kure Atoll. Twilight Zones, or also known as mesophotic coral ecosystems, are among the poorly explored of all marine ecosystem. Located at depths of 150 to 500 feet, the reefs can't be observed using only a conventional scuba gear.

The male Tosanoides Obama have a distinctive spot on the dorsal fin near the tail. The spot reminds the scientists of Obama's campaign logo, blue around the edge and red with yellow stripes in the center.

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