This gorgeous damselfish was just collected in Northeast Madagascar by Blue Ocean SARL, and it may represent the first image of a newly discovered species, possibly one which is endemic to this small corner of the Indo-Pacific. And as we’ve seen with the (still unnamed) Whitemargin Anemonefish, the reefs around Taomasina are a hotspot for localized speciation. We’re still waiting for more details on what sort of depth and habitat this specimen was found in.
As for possible identifications, my motto is: when in doubt, it’s probably an undescribed Chromis. This is life advice which seldom fails. There’s also a noticeable resemblance to Pomachromis, a small genus whose members are widespread in the Indo-Pacific and which have a notable tendency towards regional speciation. Most of the species are over on the Pacific side, with the exception of P. richardsoni. They sometimes have a dark caudal blotch (P. exilis) or a dark dorsal stripe (P. fuscidorsalis) or a dark dorsal fin (P. richardsoni), all traits shared with this mystery specimen, but the overall proportions of this fish and the elongated pelvic fins are otherwise a poor match.
Really, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the Pomacentridae quite like this fish, making it one of the most exciting fish finds of 2018. It’ll be interesting to see what this turns out to be, though it may be a while before there’s an answer to report. Updates to come…
[Update 12/22/2018: The photo below gives our best look yet at this new species. Chromis and Pomachromis have been ruled out as possibilities, and it now seems this is a Chrysiptera!]
Credit: Lemon TYK