Freshwater species conservation initiative Shoal has recently published its ‘New Species 2021’ report, covering hundreds of freshwater fish species that are discovered each year.
In 2021 alone, there were 212 species of freshwater fish that were formally recorded as new species.
Each new discovery proves there is still much of wonder underneath the surface of the planet’s rivers, lakes and wetlands that remains unknown.
A fish called wolverine, a blind eel found in the well of a school for the blind, and a species no longer than a thumbnail that helps research into neurophysiology, are all included in the report.
Brian Zimmerman, Director of Conservation and Science at Bristol Zoological Society and Co-Chair of the IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, said: “This report is a fantastic example of how much we still have to learn about freshwater fish biodiversity.”
He added: “With 212 species newly described in one year, across such an incredibly diverse range of taxa and geographical locations, it brings so much excitement and hope to those who care about the freshwater ecosystems that sustain life on earth.
“The variety of habitats, forms and behaviours represented in each of the newly-described species offers incredible opportunities for further study and understanding. I am truly inspired by this report and look forward to learning more about the fascinating species it showcases.”
Each of these discoveries deepens our understanding of evolution, informs knowledge of relationships between species and their environments, and guides where and how to prioritise conservation.
Other species in the report include:
The Mumbai blind eel, discovered at the bottom of a well shaft in the grounds of a school for the blind. It is bright red and has no eyes, fins or scales.
The aptly-named wolverine pleco has three stout ‘odontodes’ concealed beneath its gill covers, which it uses defensively to stab anything that threatens it. Researchers report repeatedly bloodied fingers when handling them!
And the fantastically colourful Kijimuna and Bunagaya gobies from Japan, named after woodland spirits.
This 2021 edition is the first of an annual release of New Species reports from Shoal and partners, with the aim of raising awareness and increasing the chances of freshwater biodiversity conservation receiving vital funding.
Bristol, Clifton & West of England Zoological Society Ltd. Registered office: Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3HA. Company registered in England, number 5154176. Charity registered number 1104986.