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By Ruby Prosser Scully
Scuba divers have discovered a new fish – a vibrant purple fairy wrasse. They have named it Cirrhilabrus wakanda, after the fictional African kingdom in Marvel’s Black Panther movie.
The 6-centimetre-long fish has dazzling, deep purple fins and a yellow head. Luiz Rocha at the California Academy of Sciences and his colleagues found the fairy wrasse more than 60 metres under the ocean surface in the coral reefs of eastern Zanzibar, Tanzania.
The purple-streaked fish’s common name, the vibranium fairy wrasse, is a nod to the powerful, fictional, purple metal found in Wakanda and woven into the Black Panther character’s outfit.
Just like secretive nation of Wakanda found in the Marvel comic books, the fish were hidden somewhere isolated and unexplored – in this case African reefs that are too deep for recreational divers to swim to.
A fish called Wakanda
The team had to use special equipment to reach the dimly lit reefs more than 60 metres below, where they found the new fairy wrasse.
Several other species of fairy wrasse are known to live in stretches of water in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but DNA and morphology analysis confirmed that this one was its own species.
It was thought that these deep “twilight zone” reefs may be far enough down to protect them from the effects of humans. But recent research has overturned the idea, indicating that these rich ecosystems are just as vulnerable as shallow-lying ones.
Journal reference: ZooKeys, DOI: doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.863.35580
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