Having a new species of animals named after you is usually a great honor in the scientific community. Hawaiian researchers recently discovered a new species of fish, which they decided to name in honor of the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) organized an expedition to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, situated in the remote northwest region of the Hawaiian Islands. During the expedition, which took place in June 2016, researchers discovered a new species of Hawaiian fish, which they decided to name Tosanoides Obama.
Richard Pyle, a scientist working at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu and the lead author of the study, which reveals the discovery of the Hawaiian fish species, said that the decision to name the fish after President Obama is an attempt to recognize his efforts in protecting and preserving nature. This includes the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea ecosystem which is among the last great wilderness regions on the planet.
Obama decided to expand the protection of the region’s waters and marine life, after a number of conservationists and marine scientists, together with Senator Brian Schatz from Hawaii issued the request. Thanks to president’s decision, the Marine National Monument measure now around 582,00 square miles, making the largest permanent protected marine region in the world.
President Obama received the honors during a trip to Hawaii in September, where he met with Sylvia Earle, a legendary ocean explorer, and conservationist, which handed him a picture of the new Hawaiian fish species. The meeting will be shown during a National Geographic broadcast named “Sea of Hope” which will air on January 15th, 2017.
Regarding the new Hawaiian fish species, the study reveals that the T. Obama is quite small, measuring only 2.4 inches long. It lives deep underwater, 300 feet below the surface, between the numerous coral reefs that grow at that depth. This marks the second time that a new species of fish has been discovered in the region, although the T. obama was initially mistaken for another tropical fish species.
The study detailing the discovery of the Hawaiian fish species has been published in the journal ZooKeys on December 21.
What do you think about naming a fish after President Obama?
Image credit: Richard L. Pyle/Bishop Museum