Simply in time for Halloween, there’s a model new species of frogfish which sports activities a really convincing sponge costume. Described within the journal Copeia, the Narungga Frogfish is the newest version to the weird and interesting genus Histiophryne. It comes from the temperate reefs of South Australia, the place the underside is suffering from all kinds of enormous, colourful sponges. Seen towards this backdrop, the lumpy, white physique of this little frogfish disappears. Histiophryne narungga may be newly described, however it’s certainly not newly found. The species had beforehand been confused with a superficially related member of this genus from the Coral Triangle, the Cryptic Frogfish (H. cryptacanthus). Each of those species function a white physique coated in small spots, however a number of refined morphological variations—fin counts, vertebral rely, illium/esca size—serve to tell apart the 2, and that is supported additional by a large genetic distance. Actually, the biogeography and ecology of those fishes alone ought to have made it apparent, because the fish fauna from the tropical reefs of the Coral Triangle and the temperate fauna of South Australia are primarily non-overlapping. Whereas this new species is understood from a broad swath of Australia’s shoreline, in depths from Three–130 meters, it has been photographed most frequently on the Edithburgh Jetty and is called after an indigenous Australian tribe whose lands embody this area. Additional east, the carefully associated Queensland Frogfish (H. maggiewalker) and Easy Frogfish (H. bougainvilli) might be discovered within the subtropical waters of Queensland and New South Wales, respectively.
Histiophryne are outstanding creatures with a reproductive technique that’s fairly not like most marine fishes. Their eggs are unusually giant (Three-Four mm) and are carefully guarded by the females, which shield them by making a pocket shaped towards their curled physique and fins… a marsupial fish of kinds. As an alternative of the everyday pelagic larval stage, the juveniles hatch out as a miniature model of the adults and set about scrambling throughout the underside seeking prey. As is usually the case with marine fishes which have foregone a pelagic life historical past, these frogfishes are poor at dispersing themselves and are susceptible to speciating allopatrically. That is presumably how Australia wound up with its trio of endemic taxa within the south. And this additionally has some ramifications for the way we perceive the populations discovered within the Coral Triangle. In 2009, a sensational new species, the Psychedelic Frogfish (H. psychedelica), made headlines when it was described from Ambon, and, so far, that is nonetheless the one location the place it has been encountered. However head a bit east to the Raja Ampat Islands of West Papua and also you’ll encounter what seems to be one other narrowly distributed (and nonetheless unstudied) species, the Honeycomb Frogfish. Small geographic ranges are most likely widespread amongst these fishes. With extra research, we might finally decide that the widespread Histiophryne of the Coral Triangle are actually extra like species complexes, with an evolutionary historical past outlined by their unorthodox reproductive technique. These small, remoted populations are naturally at an elevated threat of being endangered from habitat destruction or aquarium assortment. Whereas typically unusual in captivity, specimens of a number of species have been exported from throughout Indonesia, however the ease with which these might be captively bred affords hope for a sustainable future. It’s noteworthy that these lovely little frogfishes are reported to be fairly pleasant amongst themselves and their congeners, with as much as a dozen having been stored collectively with out resorting to cannibalism.
Diving Edithburgh Jetty S.A
M&M Diving, Edithburgh Jetty September 2018
Arnold, R.J. and Pietsch, T.W. 2018. Implausible Beasts and The place to Discover Them: A New Species of the Frogfish Genus Histiophryne Gill (Lophiiformes: Antennariidae: Histiophryninae) from Western and South Australia, with a Revised Key to Congeners. Copeia 106, No. Four, 2018, 622–631. DOI: 10.1643/CI-18-112