A team of researchers from The California Academy of Sciences recently discovered a new fish so beautiful that they named it after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Due to modern advances in scuba gear and submersibles, marine scientists have been able to explore areas never before accessible. The discovery of Tosanoides Aphrodite was made by Luiz Rocha and Hudson Pinheiro while diving around St. Paul’s Rocks, about 600 miles off the coast of Brazil. The brightly colored fish was found in what’s known as the ocean’s “twilight zone,” a region of darkness located 200-500 ft. below the surface of the waves.

Destined To Find Fame For Its Beauty

“This is one of the most beautiful fishes I’ve ever seen,” said Dr Luiz Rocha, the Academy’s Curator of Fishes. “It was so enchanting it made us ignore everything around it.”

Luiz Rocha/California Academy of Sciences

A video camera along for the expedition proved Rocha’s statement truer than he may have known at the time. So enthralled were the divers with the sight of the new fish that they didn’t notice that a 10-foot long sixgill shark was circling right above them. Luckily, although sixgill sharks often come into contact with divers, they tend to be more curious than dangerous.

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A Whole New Genus?

The 3-inch long T. Aphrodite sports bright pink and yellow neon colors and almost appears to have been decorated with highlighters. Though this may seem like a risky appearance when it comes to would-be predators, Pinheiro explained that pink and red are common colors of deep sea fish. This is due to the fact that red light doesn’t penetrate as deep as they tend to live beneath the waves. Thus, fish of these colors would generally be invisible to any predator who doesn’t happen to be carrying a flashlight.

Luiz Rocha/California Academy of Sciences

Rocha and Pinheiro were not only able to capture the fish on camera but collect several of them to study more closely at their lab in San Francisco. They reported that male members of the T. Aphrodite species tend to be yellow and pink in color, while the females stick to a solid reddish orange appearance.

It was during genetic analysis that the team determined the fish to belong to a genus known as Tosanoides. This raised several questions, as this group of fish has previously only been known to reside in the Pacific Ocean. It may even suggest the possibility that the fish could be a part of a whole new genus entirely, but in order to prove such a speculation, the team says further genetic analyses will have to be done.

Famous Family Members

The team also revealed that the T. Aphrodite appears to have a relative who was also named after a famous figure. Genetically, it appears to be most closely related to a Hawaiian fish called Tosanoides Obama, who derives its name from the U.S. President.

R. L. Pyle

Though they admit that exploration of oceanic twilight zones isn’t always easy, the team appears enthusiastic about continuing exploration of such areas. “In a time of global crisis for coral reefs, learning more about unexplored reef habitats and their colorful residents is critical to our understanding of how to protect them,” Dr. Rocha said. “We aim to highlight the ocean’s vast and unexplored wonders and inspire a new generation of sustainability champions.”