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And so I’m making it an Earth week.

There are 3 research articles about new species and new genera from the Philippines lurking in my laptop. These new species did not make the mainstream media, unlike this and this, but their discovery is just as exciting as the more famous species.

Since I decreed this as an Earth week for this blog,  I will force myself to write about these new species this week. Stress and pressure, why do I do this to myself?!

These new species should give us Filipinos a sense of pride of country, which would hopefully translate into a better appreciation of the country’s biodiversity. This in turn should hopefully prompt us to formulate a more strategic, and focused conservation efforts towards our natural resources.

The first of these new species is a rare deep water tilefish from Laiya, Batangas. The discovery is very curious since the internet played a major role.

The initial 2 specimens (fishes) caught in 2009, were photographed before being eaten.  The photos were then uploaded (shared) to the web, where they were discovered and recognized as a new species by the authors.

Writing in Zootaxa [1], the authors said that  Branchiostegus saito  is probably endemic to Batangas. It is also only known from 4 samples gathered from 2009-2011. Take note that the first  2 were eaten.

Branchiostegus saito (Standard Length, 329 mm). Courtesy: Dooley, J.K., & Y. Iwatsuki, Zootaxa (2012)

The authors conclude that this is a new species based on the following combination of characteristics:

  • prominent dark predorsal ridge bordered by bright yellow-orange background (only B. semifasciatus from West Africa has a more prominent and dark predorsal ridge, but the ridge has no underlying orange-yellow colour)
  • a great body depth (28–29% SL; other species of Branchiostegus, usually 27% SL)
  • longer head length (30–31% SL; other species of Branchiostegus, usually 28%) (SL is standard length where the measurement does not include the caudal fin of the fish.)
  • greater head depth (26–27% SL; other species of Branchiostegus, usually 26% SL)
  • long pre-dorsal length (35% SL; other species of Branchiostegus, usually 32% SL)
  • and distinctive body, head and caudal fin colouration
  • skin over dorsal tips of branchiostegals characteristically bright yellow

This fish is named after Jiro Saito, an amateur angler from Japan, who caught all the specimens.

Now I am wondering.  Should I start taking pictures and sharing raw food?


Journal Reference:

[1]  Dooley, J.K., & Y. Iwatsuki (2012). A new species of deepwater tilefish(Percoidea: Branchiostegidae) from the Philippines, with a brief discussion of the status of tilefish systematics Zootaxa, 3249, 31-38.