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Obama's Second Fish Namesake: New Species Discovered in Hawaii

Sep 05, 2016 05:53 AM EDT

It is indeed a wonderful gift to honor U.S. President Barack Obama's endless effort in conserving the environment by naming a newly discovered maroon and gold fish species. The said fish is exclusively found and living only in the waters of Papahānaumokuākea in Hawaii.

The new fish belongs to genus Tosanoides  and was named after Obama when he announced the expansion the Papahānaumokuākea marine reserve last week, making it the largest protected aquatic heaven. The said marine sanctuary will be almost twice as big as Texas.

The Hawaii-born president was presented with a frame plaque of his new namesake marine species when he went to Midway Atoll in Hawaii on Thursday, National Geographic reports. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, a renowned marine conservationist who has been protecting the marine environment for decades, did the honor of giving the plaque to President Obama.

The fish species was discovered on June 5, 2016 during a research trip to Kure Atoll, one of the jewels of Papahānaumokuākea in Northwest Hawaii. The area is popularly known for sheltering the highest marine endemism ever recorded in the world, where some 17 genera and 22 species are exclusively found.

It was during a dive research 300 feet deep underwater when Hawaii-based marine biologist Richard Pyle first caught glimpse of a new school of orange and pink fishes, which he didn't recognize. The group is composed of tiny fish measuring at only 1.5 inch, according to Tech Times

Researchers said that it is the first member of genus Tosanoides found outside the waters of Japan. Found only in the living waters inside Papahānaumokuākea, the fishes are considered "very special." The circular red spot ringed with blue on the dorsal fin of the male fish reminded the scientist of Obama's campaign logo, that's where the idea was formed.

"It's very reminiscent of Obama's (campaign) logo," Richard Pyle said, from CNN. "How appropriate that a fish we were thinking about naming after him anyway, just to say thank you for expanding the national monument, happens to have a feature that ties it to the President."

This is the second time a fish is named after the president. The first one is an aqua orange speckled freshwater darter endemic found in Tennessee Rivers in 2012 called Etheostoma Obama.

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