Researchers are celebrating the discovery of a new species of coral reef fish in the southern waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Named the Lady Elliot Shrimp Goby, the previously unknown fish was found as part of a University of the Sunshine Coast-led project that is mapping the changing biodiversity on and around Lady Elliot Island, a tiny coral cay at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.
“This is a significant, exciting discovery,” says marine biologist and co-author Dr. Chris Dudgeon, one of the researchers working on the collaborative Leaf to Reef project, part of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s Reef Islands Initiative that aims to protect critical habitats in the world’s largest coral reef system.
The Lady Elliot Shrimp Goby (Tomiyamichthys elliotensis) is described in a paper released today in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation. Small and white, with brown spots, yellow-orange bands and a large sail-like first dorsal fin, it was first sighted in a sand burrow that it shares with a pair of alpheid snapping shrimps.
“It’s been a while since a ‘never recorded anywhere before’ fish has been described from the Great Barrier Reef,” Dr. Dudgeon said.
The researchers say the discovery generates more questions and speculation—including how many more new species are waiting to be uncovered.
Image – Lady Elliot Goby (Tomiyamichthys elliotensis) underwater photograph taken at Lady Elliot Island, Queensland, Australia. Credit: Dr Mark Erdmann
More information: Gerald R. Allen et al, Tomiyamichthys elliotensis, a new species of shrimpgoby (Teleostei: Gobiidae) from Lady Elliot Island, Queensland, Australia, Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation (2023). oceansciencefoundation.org/josf40e.html. On Zenodo: DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.8404548