Although the area has been well studied and fished, scientists have discovered two new species of pancake batfish in the Gulf of Mexico.
Pancake batfish are bottom-dwelling fish with huge mouths and a dorsal fin modified into a lure to catch prey. They use their short fins to “walk” along the sea bottom, which has been described as resembling a walking bat. The batfish are members of the anglerfish family that live in deep, permanently dark waters.
The two new species described in the Journal of Fish Biology were previously lumped together as one species. The scientists found several new differences that warranted the separation, including size, shape, and patterning.
“One of the fishes that we describe is completely restricted to the oil spill area,” said study author John Sparks, curator of Ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History, in a press release.
“If we are still finding new species of fishes in the Gulf, imagine how much diversity—especially microdiversity—is out there that we do not know about.”