Tamil Nadu Brown Moray

A team of researchers have discovered a new species of Moray eel off the coast of Cuddalore, which is located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The new species has been named Gymnothorax tamilnaduensis, with its common name being the Tamil Nadu brown moray. This discovery has been published in the international peer-reviewed journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

Discovery and Description of the New Species

The new species was discovered at the Mudasalodai fish landing centre off the coast of Cuddalore. P. Kodeswaran and G. Kantharajan were the two researchers who discovered the species during an exploration survey conducted along the coastal waters of Cuddalore district. The species was notably different from its known Indian water congeners, with series of lines of small dark spots present on the head and a single line of black spots on the mid-line of the body.

The researchers conducted an extensive morphological analysis, skeleton radiography, and advanced molecular markers, along with species delimitation computational techniques to conclude that this Moray eel specimen collected from Mudasalodai is distinct from other species of the genus Gymnothorax. Four specimens ranging from 272-487 mm in total length were collected at a depth of about 25-30 metres from the fishing landing centre at Mudasalodai.

The researchers sent a few species to the Zoological Survey of India for confirmation. According to T.T. Ajith Kumar, the principal scientist of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (NBFGR), the present description is also the first new species of the genus Gymnothorax from the south-eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal.

Significance of the Discovery

India has documented 28 species of Gymnothorax so far. The discovery of the new species off the Cuddalore coast represents India and increases the total amount of species of Gymnothorax to 29. The holotype of this new species has been deposited at the National Fish Museum and repository of ICAR-NBFGR, Lucknow. The name of the species has been registered in ZooBank, the online registration system for the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN).

NBFGR’s Purpose for Conducting Explorations

The institute NBFGR has been continually conducting explorations in the unexplored regions of the country to document the hidden biodiversity of the nation, which will help to enrich the biodiversity catalogue of the country. This new discovery is an example of how exploring uncharted territories can lead to new findings and enrich our understanding of the world around us.



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