Some new footage has just surfaced which showcases one of the most singularly beautiful species of fish to be described in recent years. Brianne’s Groppo (Grammatonotus brianne) is an uncommonly vibrant creature, sporting shades of purple and yellow which clearly belong most appropriately to the 1980’s. And though small in stature, it flamboyantly flaunts its presence with a large, spade-shaped caudal fin that appears entirely out of proportion on such a wee little beast. This is a remarkable (almost garish) fish that seems as though it belongs among the prismatic corals of some shallow fringing reef, but, as we can see in this short clip, it’s natural habitat couldn’t be any different.
Grammatonotus brianne (Anderson, Greene and Rocha, 2016) Callanthiidae Bauan, Philippines 13 May 2017
Observed against this stark backdrop of rocks and silt, Brianne’s Groppo is preposterously vivid—a splash of color which ought not exist in such an alien moonscape. This fish is Reese Witherspoon in Pleasantville, brightening the dull world of these deep Philippines reefs. It was only first encountered a few years ago as part of an expedition led by researchers at the California Academy of Science, and some of these same divers are back in the water again right now, bringing us more incredible images from these rarely seen ecosystems.
Sacura parva, Odontanthias borbonius and friends at 105m, Anilao, Batangas, Philippines. May 2017. Hope for Reefs expedition. (c) Bart Shepherd, California Academy of Sciences
If somehow G. brianne wasn’t enough fish to whet your mesophotic appetite, the video above features a veritable smorgasbord of piscine eye candy—Odontanthias borbonius, Pseudanthias fasciatus and P. hotumoi, Canthigaster epilampra, Chromis brevirostris, Symphysodon, and the film debut of of Sacura parva, a particularly pulchritudinous find which I wrote about just a few days ago. These reefs are truly a hotbed of sumptuous biodiversity, and, while you might never get to experience this first hand, you can see at least some of it in person at the Steinhart Aquarium’s one of a kind “Twilight Zone” exhibit.