The Oblique Butterflyfish (Prognathodes obliquus) is, scientifically speaking, an embarrassment. The brown and white vestment of this meagre creature, devoid of even the slightest hint of aesthetic appeal, is an absolute affront to the colorful frivolity we’ve come to expect and demand from the butterflyfish family. Aye, what a waste of a perfectly good chaetognathid! What madman would find this decrepit fish desirable? It is a destitute beast… a piscine pauper adorned in a drab regalia befitting its low station in life.
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This odious, malformed beast has rightfully been shunned by the world, and thus its only home is in the dark inaccessible depths of one of the most isolated reef systems on the planet—St. Paul’s Rocks. Situated more than 500 miles off the coast of Brazil, this barren land protrudes from the vast emptiness of the Atlantic like a watery blemish. Napoleon was exiled to imprisonment on the nearby island of St. Helena, and I can only presume that Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has chosen to do the same with P. obliquus.
Alas, there are those among us who wish to shed light on even the most obscure and undeserving of marine species. Perhaps some biodiversity is best left ignored and forgotten, but researcher/explorer Luiz Rocha apparently thinks otherwise. On his recent expedition to these forsaken Brazilian reefs, he succeeded (?) in filming the elusive Oblique Butterflyfish, conclusively documenting that, yes, it really does exist, and, yes, evolution does sometimes fail miserably. *sigh* Is it in poor taste to wish extinction on a fish…