Indonesian Reef Fish Discovery Adds Value to Ecotourism

11/13/2013

New flasher wrasse fish species brings further conservation value to Indonesia's non-extractive marine natural capital

Bali, Indonesia – Scientists from the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Centre (IBRC)  and Conservation International (CI) have described a new flasher wrasse fish species, Paracheilinus rennyae.  The beautiful wrasse is known only to be present in the coral reefs of southwestern Flores Island and the Komodo National Park area within East Nusa Tenggara Province of eastern Indonesia. 
 

 
“We are hopeful that this new species will add to the tourism value of Komodo National Park and the surrounding reefs of southwest Flores," said Dr. Tiene Gunawan, Marine Program Director at Conservation International Indonesia. "Our colleagues in the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries are increasingly aware of the high non-extractive use values of our country's tremendous marine biodiversity, and this new flasher wrasse species has strong potential to increase the tourism draw of East Nusa Tenggara. It is a great example of how our marine biodiversity heritage, some of which is only now being discovered, needs protection to ensure it can provide maximum benefits to our society.”

 

 
This discovery follows the publication of the “Reef Fishes Of The East Indies” book and mobile app, which highlight more than 2,500 reef fishes in the wider region, of which 25 species are new to science.

 
Although it is the seventeenth known species of flasher wrasse, it is unique in both its coloration and especially in the rounded shape of its dorsal and anal fins and tail. The new species has also been shown to be genetically distinct from all other known flasher wrasses in the Coral Triangle​, with its closest relative being Paracheilinus angulatus from East Kalimantan, Brunei, Sabah and the southern Philippines.

 
Flasher wrasses are rapidly becoming a favorite fish group among divers and underwater photographers because of their electric blue and red colour patterns, which are only displayed as part of a daily mating ritual that normally occurs about an hour before sundown. At that time, the normally brownish-coloured males rise up in the water column and "flash" their spectacular mating colouration while erecting their fins and swimming in short bursts of speed in an attempt to impress nearby females flasherwrasses and to encourage them to spawn. 

 
"We're delighted that one of our young local scientists, Ni Luh Astria Yusmalinda, was able to publish her first international journal paper​ based on her genetic analysis of this new species and its closest relatives," said Dr. Ngurah Mahardika, the hosting laboratory director of the IBRC at Udayana University. "This discovery was made possible through the generous support the IBRC received from USAID. We hope this will highlight the spirit of strong scientific collaboration between Indonesian universities, conservation NGOs like Conservation International and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences". 

 
The species was named in recognition of the scientific contributions of ichthyologist Renny Kurnia Hadiaty from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in Cibinong, Java. The new species description was just published in the year-end edition of Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology.  

 
"I'm deeply honored by this recognition, not only because it is such a beautiful fish species, but also because the lead author on the description is my close colleague and internationally-renowned ichthyologist Gerald Allen," said Hadiaty, the curator of fish collections at the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (MZB) within the Zoology Division of LIPI's Research Center for Biology. Hadiaty has had a productive career spanning 27 years at LIPI, during which time she has focused primarily on Indonesian freshwater fish taxonomy and has co-authored numerous papers with CI’s Dr. Allen.

 

 
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Emmeline Johansen, Regional Communications Manager
Asia Pacific Field Division, Conservation International 
Mobile +64 4 277 793 401 | e-mail:  ejohansen.conservation@gmail.com   

 
Dr. Tiene Gunawan | Marine Program Director | Conservation International Indonesia
email: tgunawan@conservation.org 

 
Dr. Ngurah Mahardika | Professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
IBRC Hosting Lab Director | Universitas Udayana, Bali | email: gnmahardika@gmail.com

 
Conservation International (CI) – Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity for the well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area and employs more than 800 staff in 29 countries on six continents, and has nearly 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please visit our website at: www.conservation.org or visit us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.