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New freshwater fish found in Maha’s western ghats

October 17, 2020 07:35 AM


New freshwater fish found in Maha’s western ghats

Badri Chatterjee

Mumbai : Researchers have discovered a new sub-species of the Schistura – a freshwater loach – from the Hiranyakeshi river in the Sahyadri (western ghats) at Sindhudurg. The Schistura are tiny and colourful fish species which inhabit streams and water that is rich in oxygen.

The findings by Jayasimhan Praveenraj from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Central Island Agricultural Research Institute, Port Blair; Maharashtra chief minister’s son Tejas Thackeray from the Thackeray Wildlife Foundation, Mumbai; and fish enthusiast and underwater photographer Shankar Balasubramanian were published the peer reviewed journal Aqua International Journal of Ichthyology recently. Praveenraj said Thackeray had found the loach in 2012. It was collected for the second time by Thackeray and Balasubramanian in 2017.

The fish was named as ‘Schistura hiranyakeshi’ after the river Hiranyakeshi. “As we collected the specimens from 2017, we found that the fish did not have any official scientific name. We compared our newly-found loach with other species of Schistura from the subcontinent and confirmed it to be new. Hiranykeshi in Sanskrit means ‘golden hair’ which also symbolises the golden yellow fin colour on the fish,” said Praveenraj.

Experts said it was a significant discovery. “There have always been speculations that the northern western ghats’ freshwater system has rich biodiversity. Now, this is the evidence to show the presence of strikingly beautiful species,” said Rajeev Raghavan, assistant professor at Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, and South Asia coordinator of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Freshwater Fish Specialist Group.

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