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Monday, October 2, 2023

Natl Museum confirms new species of fish in PH

THE National Museum of the Philippines has verified a publication about a new species of fish that was discovered by four researchers in the country.

On a Facebook post on Saturday, the National Museum introduced the Iniistius bakunawa, also known as the eclipse-spot razor wrasse.

According to the agency, locals in Bohol are unaware of this fish, which is commonly sold in the local market.

NEW FISH Pictures of the Iniistius bakunawa obtained by the National Museum of the Philippines on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. PHOTOS BY HIROYUKI MOTOMURA AND YI-KAI TEA/NATIONAL MUSEUM

“The eclipse-spot razor wrasse was described from several specimens, including the holotype collected from a public market in Loay, Bohol. Locals have long been familiar with this previously unclassified fish and, at some point, have made it a staple [dish],” the Museum said.

“This brings to light the importance of research such as taxonomy in helping us understand our environment and manage our natural resources, because all too often, such animals have been part of the culture of a certain area yet remain overlooked and [unclassified] as they live in poorly studied environments,” it added.

A study on the fish was published by the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology in Singapore on September 4. It was authored by University of the Philippines Los Baños Zoology postgraduate student Kent Sorgon, University of the Philippines Mindanao College of Science and Mathematics Dean Cleto Nañola Jr., the National Museum’s own Jasmin Meren, and Australian Museum postdoctoral fellow Yi-Kai Tea.

“Iniistius bakunawa, new species, is described on the basis of nine specimens consisting of the holotype and six paratypes collected from fish markets in the islands of Panay, Cebu, Bohol, and Jolo in the Philippines, and two paratypes from the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia,” the study described the new species.

“The new species is distinctive in having a pale yellowish to jade green body with a large concentric black and white ellipsoid ocellus on the posterior-most edge of its dorsal fin,” it further noted.

In a post on his Facebook page on the publication date of the study, Sorgon, one of the study’s authors, said the species is named after a beast in Visayan mythology.

“The species is named after the Bakunawa, a serpentine beast in Visayan mythology believed to cause an eclipse by devouring the moon or the sun,” he wrote. “The epithet also alludes to the eclipse-like spot on the rearmost part of their dorsal fin, where the white margin fades in preservative. Kinda like the fleeting nature of eclipses, right?”

According to Tea, its English name, the eclipse-spot razor wrasse, was named “after the concentric ellipsoidal ocellus on the posterior dorsal fin.”

“The epithet alludes to the large concentric black and white ellipsoid ocellus on the rearmost part of their dorsal fin that resembles an eclipse. The white margin fades in preservatives. Kinda like the fleeting nature of eclipses, right?” the National Museum wrote on Facebook.

The study can be accessed at the website of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology portion of the National University of Singapore-Lee Kong Chian Natural Museum.

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Author: Aric John Sy Cua

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