Noumea—It’s not exactly whale sized, but it’s a big deal when any new fish species is found, however tiny.
This fish, Polyipnus laruei, is named after yachters Pierre and William Larue who discovered it. After more than two years’ work, the description of the new fish species has been officially approved by the Zootaxa scientific journal.
In 2014, Pierre and William Larue were boating near Tombo Reef, close to Boulari Boat Pass, when they spotted a small silver fish floating on the water. Pierre immediately took high-resolution photos that he sent to a journalist, who then contacted Gérard Mou-Tham, a French Development Research Institute fish scientist. The fish did not match any known lagoon specimens, so another researcher, Dominique Ponton, suggested it might be a hatchetfish of the Polyipnus genus, a deep-water fish.
When an article appeared in the press, Pacific Community taxonomist Elodie
Vourey examined the fish. While she was familiar with this fish family, she had never seen this species before and decided to write a description of the specimen, which she sent to Antony Scott Harold, a hatchetfish expert and professor at College of Charleston in the United States, who confirmed that it was indeed a new species.
The description work was done by Vourey, Cyndie Dupoux, a technician managing invertebrate collections at the Paris Natural History Museum and Dr. Harold.