University of the Sunshine Coast 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 (Tomiyamichthys elliotensis), the previously unknown fish was found as part of an Australian Government funded project that is mapping the changing biodiversity on and around Lady Elliot Island.
According to the paper published in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation, the new species is likely to be present throughout the Capricorn-Bunker reefs and potentially widespread throughout the whole Great Barrier Reef.
The research team is now tasked with the complicated process of confirming up to seven other unidentified marine creatures they found during their underwater surveys – including dwarf and pygmy gobies and damselfish – are also new to science.
“While the Great Barrier Reef is a much-studied ecosystem, the last completely new species to be described was a grouper found in the deep sea in 2019, which is where most new discoveries come from. To find a new fish species in the shallows on a reef, in plain sight is unique”, said Marine biologist and co-author Dr Chirs Dudgeon, one of the researchers working on the collaborative project.
This new discovery highlights the importance of protecting and supporting the resilience of the Reef and the marine life that calls it home.
Funding was provided by the Reef Islands Initiative, a Great Barrier Reef Foundation program, supported by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, Lendlease, the Queensland Government and the Fitzgerald Family Foundation.