Researchers stumble upon new species of fish

Researchers stumble upon new species of fish

Scientists have found a new ornamental fish in South Karnataka, raising the possibility of discovery of many more new species in the Western Ghats.

A new eel loach species named Pangio ammophila was found in Kumaradhara river in Subramanya in the Dakshina Kannada district. They were collected from the sandy areas in the river’s shallow by an Indo-British team of researchers. The fish is 25-30 mm long.

The discovery was reported in the journal ‘Icthyological Explorations of Freshwater’ on Sunday.

This is only the fourth species of Pangio found in India and one of the two that occurred in the streams of the Western Ghats; the other being Pangio goaensis. Other two fishes from the same genus were found in the North East.

“Karnataka is the least explored Ghat state as most of the studies were conducted in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This was found outside the protected area, highlighting the need to explore not only protected areas but also areas outside the boundary of protected areas,” Rajeev Raghavan, one of the team members at St Albert’s College, Kochi, told Deccan Herald. The team included scientists from the Natural History Museum in London and the University of Kent. Incidentally, the spot where the species was found was originally discovered by three Bangalore-based aquarium hobbyists.

The discovery comes within a month of finding another new species of freshwater fish known as Dario urops. Nearly 300 species of freshwater fish are currently known from the Western Ghats. But Raghavan said the number might be an underestimation as five species were discovered in the region in 2012 alone.

However, freshwater aquatic habitats and fish fauna in the Western Ghats are threatened by habitat loss, overfishing and invasive alien species. 

Even the habitat in Subramanya is under severe threat from sand mining.