May 8, 2013
New Species Of Bass Discovered Right Under Our Noses
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Scientists in Florida recently announced that they have discovered a new species of black bass in the southeastern United States.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) researchers say they discovered the newly christened "Choctaw bass" during a genetic study of bass in 2007. Scientists discovered a DNA profile that did not belong to any species while testing other bass species in the Chipola River in 2007.
“We didn´t set out to find a new species,” said Mike Tringali, who heads the genetics laboratory at the FWC´s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “It found us.”
Upon confirming the new species, scientists looked through the DNA profiles of bass caught in nearby rivers to determine the species' range. They discovered that the new species inhabits coastal river systems in Alabama and along the western Florida panhandle.
“We chose the name ℠Choctaw bass´ because the species´ range overlaps the historic range of the Choctaw Indians,” said Tringali. “As for our recommended scientific name, Micropterus haiaka, ℠haiaka´ is a Choctaw word that means ℠revealed.´”
The bass is so similar in appearance to the spotted bass that the physical differences can hardly be spotted with the naked eye. The FWC said this is one reason the Choctaw bass had never been identified before as a separate species, despite decades of bass studies in the region.
The Choctaw bass isn't the first new fish species discovered this year. Two new species of cichlid fish from Lake Victoria in central Africa were announced back in January, including one named after Tijs Goldschmidt, the author of the book “Darwin's Dreampond: Drama In Lake Victoria.”
Scientists also announced the discovery of a new fish species in the streams of Manyas Lake Basin in western Turkey. The Alburnoides manyasensis belongs to the carp family Cyprinidae, which is the largest fish family with over 2,400 species. The Alburnoides is widely distributed in Turkey in river and stream basins of the Marmara, Black and Aegean seas. It is distinguishable by the small black spots on the side of the fish.
Experts at Japan's Tokyo Sea Life Park gave a little insight earlier this year into a strange fish caught in the Antarctic Ocean two years ago. This fish has no scales and completely transparent blood. The Ocellated Ice Fish is also the only vertebrate on Earth that lacks hemoglobin.
Earth´s massive bodies of water, both fresh and marine, remain the most unexplored and little understood ecosystems on the planet, and more discoveries of the creatures that inhabit these places are still to come.