A Rainbow Under the Water
Scientists have discovered a new species of very colorful fish.
© Yi-Kai Tea, courtesy of California Academy of Sciences, shared with permission
There are rainbows under the water—rainbow-colored fish, that is! Scientists have discovered a new species of fish that has red, orange, and purple coloring.
The fish is called the rose-veiled fairy wrasse. (Wrasses are a family of brightly colored fish.) It lives in the waters around Maldives, a nation that’s made up of a group of islands in the Indian Ocean. The area is home to many species of marine life. The rose-veiled fairy wrasse also goes by its scientific name, Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa. Finifenmaa means “rose” in Dhivehi, the language spoken in Maldives.
Researchers first spotted the rose-veiled fairy wrasse in the 1990s, but they thought it belonged to a species they already knew about. Recently, they studied the fish more closely and realized it was actually a different species.
The rose-veiled fairy wrasse is found 160 to 500 feet (50 to 150 meters) beneath the ocean’s surface. This depth is called “the twilight zone.” The water in the twilight zone is darker and colder than near the surface. Around Maldives, the twilight zone is home to deep-water coral reefs. Many fish depend on these reefs, which have not been explored very much. Scientists say that learning about the twilight zone species will help them understand how to protect the coral reefs.