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Strange-Looking Fish Species Discovered in New Zealand

Jul 27, 2012 11:15 AM EDT
Close up of one rare white rattail (genus Coryphaenoides) caught at about 2,600 m.	 (Photo: Peter McMillan/NIWA)

A new strange-looking fish species has been discovered by the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) on the North Chatham Rise in New Zealand.

Marine experts discovered one large white rattail (genus Coryphaenoides), which was never recorded in New Zealand waters. The new species was caught at a depth of about 2,600 meters below the Graveyard Hills on the north Chatham Rise. Experts were using fish trawls below the depth of around 2,730 meters to gauge fish distribution and the amount of fish present in the ocean, when they found the new species. 

"We are interested in these results because they test whether our assumptions about the depth limits of commercial fish species are correct, and they also increase our knowledge about the inhabitants of our marine estate in this largely unexplored environment," said Ministry for Primary Industries Dr. Pamela Mace in a news release.

The experts found several new and rare species of fish including a flabby whalefish, three new slickheads, a juvenile Richardson's skate, large warty cusk-eel, white rattail, alongwith several other unidentified fishes.

Besides the discovery, experts were able to learn about the depth limits at which the fish species live.

"We were fortunate to get an opportunity to explore this deep area on the Chatham Rise. It's great to know what we have, and how much," NIWA fisheries scientist Peter McMillan told reporters.

The fish species that were caught on the trawls will be recorded and labeled. The new species will be sent to the Te Papa fish collection in Wellington where they will be preserved for further research work. The fish team is responsible for collecting, identifying and indulging in research of the fish species. At least 1,300 fish species have been collected by the museum scientists in the last 30 years.

The scientists are currently working in Marsden Fund Project to study the distribution of the fish fauna in the geographic space through time and understand their origin and diversity.

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