Spiny Marine Fish Discovered in Sweden
This is a reticulated dragonet, a new species in Sweden, well-camouflaged against the seabed in the Väderöarna.
Credit: Lars-Ove Loo

A new species of fish called the reticulated dragonet has been found in Väderöarna — also known as the "Weather Islands" — off the west coast of Sweden.

The brown speckled fish was caught on film by underwater photographer Lars-Ove Loo. He saw it in August 2010, while making an inventory ahead of the creation of a new nature reserve in the islands. This was 62 feet (19 meters) below the surface of the sea south of Lyngö in the southern Väderöarna islands.

This area is the Skagerrak, a strait that runs between the southeast coast of Norway, the southwest coast of Sweden, and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat sea area, which leads to the Baltic Sea.

The reticulated dragonet (Callionymus reticulatus) is similar to its more common Swedish relatives the common dragonet and spotted dragonet. The male reticulated dragonet is just 4 inches (11 centimeters) long and the female is 2.5 inches (6.5 centimeters) long. It has three spines on its gill cover, whereas the other two species have four. Its snout — the distance from mouth to eye — is somewhat longer than the distance between its eyes.

The fish's brown, speckled skin help camouflage it against the pebbly ocean bottom.

Reticulated dragonet is found from the Weather Islands in the north down the coasts of the southern North Sea, in the Irish Sea, from southwestern Ireland down to Portugal, and in the western Mediterranean. It has been found both in shallow waters and at depths of up to 360 feet (110 meters).