Dr Pyle first spotted an example of the pink/orange basslet later dubbed Tsanoides obama while diving using a mixed-gas closed-circuit rebreather in a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expedition to remote north-western Hawaii in June. Two specimens were collected from Kure and Pearl & Hermes atolls at around 90m, in the “twilight zone“ less explored by marine biologists.
“We decided to name this fish after President Obama to recognise his efforts to protect and preserve the natural environment, including the expansion of PapahÄnaumokuÄkea,” said Dr Pyle, referring to the Marine National Monument where the fish was found. This sanctuary was extended to more than 580,000sq miles by the President two months after the discovery, making it the world’s biggest marine area to be protected in perpetuity.
T obama is the only species of reef fish found so far to be endemic to the protected area.
A scientist at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Dr Pyle is lead author of a paper about the discovery. It can be read in the journal ZooKeys here
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