From the Environment News Service:
New Snapper Species Identified in Brazil
ARLINGTON, Virginia, March 12, 2007 (ENS) – A large fish mistaken by scientists as a dog snapper, a popular commercial fish in Brazil, is actually a new species identified among the reefs of the Abrolhos region of the South Atlantic Ocean.
Researchers Rodrigo Moura of Conservation International and Kenyon Lindeman of Environmental Defense made the discovery, identifying the fish as Lutjanus alexandrei, a new snapper species that belongs to the Lutjanidae family.
“This discovery that a large, popular fish is a species new to science shows how little we know about the oceans that surround us,” Moura said.
The new species has been mistaken for Lutjanus jocu, known as the dog snapper.
“It looks like other snapper species found in the Caribbean and eastern United States, as well as the dog snapper caught by fishermen here in Brazil, but it is a distinct species with different markings and color,” Moura said.
The new species is named for 18th century naturalist Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira, whose extensive work in the Brazilian interior remains largely unknown.
Moura and Lindeman spent five years observing Lutjanus alexandrei to analyze its characteristics and determine the distinct features.
They found that it occurs from the state of Maranhao to the southern coast of the state of Bahia, and its habitats include coral reefs, rocky shores, coastal lagoons with brackish water, mangroves, and other shallow habitats.
Juveniles requiring more food and protection live in mangroves, then migrate to reef habitat and deeper areas as adults.
“Several species spend some of their lives in these different yet connected habitats,” Lindeman said.
“That’s why it’s so important to develop integrated conservation strategies that include mangroves, deep reefs, and other interdependent ecosystems.”
The discovery made by Moura and Lindeman is published in the peer-reviewed international science journal “Zootaxa.”
The study provides a revised key for identifying all Lutjanus species in the western Atlantic.