New Antarctic Fish Species Discovered

Gosztonyia antarctica. (Image credit: Jesús Matallanas / SINC)

A Spanish researcher has discovered a newfound species of fish in an area of the Antarctic Ocean that has not been studied since 1904.

The fish, given the name Gosztonyia antarctica, was found at a depth of 2,000 feet (615 meters) in the Bellingshausen Sea, an area between two islands along the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The area has been little explored by scientists because it is relatively inaccessible and the ocean floor beneath it has not been mapped, said the researcher who made the discovery, Jesús Matallanas of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Since the expedition of the boat Bélgica, which obtained two unique specimens of fish in 1904, no one has fished in the sea.

Matallanas collected four specimens of the newfound species — measuring between 10 to 12 inches (25.4 to 30 centimeters) — during Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) campaigns in the southern hemisphere summers of 2003 and 2006. His findings were detailed in the January issue of the journal Polar Biology.

The fish is from the family Zoarcidae, a dominant group of fish on continental slopes that has some 240 species.

The discovery yielded some insight into the makeup of the fauna of the Bellingshausen Sea.

"One of the most significant results is that the ichthyofauna of the Bellingshausen Sea, contrary to what was previously believed, is more closely related to that of the Eastern Antarctic than the Western," Matallanas said.

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