A team of researchers has discovered a new deep sea fish species in Kerala waters. Glossanodon macrocephalus (common name Kerala argentine) with whitish and silvery body and white meat is edible.
According to Bineesh K.K., Scientist-D, Zoological Survey of India, Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre, who led the group, the species belong to family Argentinidae of the genus Glossanodon. “The new species are benthopelagic dweller found on muddy bottoms in depths of around 300 to 600 m. It is the first time the family has been reported from Indian waters,” Mr. Bineesh said.
Mr. Bineesh, who is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group, said that he had collected four specimens of an unknown species of Glossanodon similar to Glossanodon melanomanus, during a survey, which were caught by deep-sea bottom trawlers targeting shrimp off Kollam. Further studies, however, revealed that it was distinct from other members of the family, he said.
According to the researchers, argentines are small-sized, benthopelagic fishes found on offshore bottoms and seamounts throughout the tropical to temperate oceans of the world.
Two species of the genus, Glossanodon leioglossus and Glossanodon semifasciatus have commercial value in the central mediterranean and in the northwestern Pacific around Japan respectively. Currently the genus Glossanodon includes 15 nominal and valid species.
Researchers said that the new species clearly differed from their congeners with a combination of characters.
The species name ‘macrocephalus’ is from the Greek ‘macro’, meaning large and ‘cephalon’, meaning head, in reference to the large head in comparison with those of all congeners.
With a standard length of 12.9 cm to 16.4 cm, it has a relatively large head and moderately small eye. The new species have broad longitudinal black stripe above lateral line, a dark spot on the base to half of pectoral fin and no teeth on the tongue.
Anus is positioned immediately anterior to the anal-fin origin. There are 10-11 dorsal-fin rays, 21-23 pectoral-fin rays, 12-13 anal-fin rays, 11-12 pelvic-fin rays, five branchiostegal rays, 30-36 gill rakers on first arch, 47-48 vertebrae and a patch of small conical teeth on middle of lower jaws.
The other members of the research team included Musaliyarakam Nashad, Fishery Survey of India, Port Blair; K.V. Aneesh Kumar, of Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology; and Hiromitsu Endo, of Laboratory of Marine Biology, Faculty of Science and Technology, Kochi University, Japan.