Scientists have discovered three new species of eel along the northern Bay of Bengal coast in the past few months.
Dark brown with white dots on the dorsal side, Gymnothorax pseudotile was discovered at the Digha coast of the Bay of Bengal. The other two species, Gymnothorax visakhaensis (uniformly brown) and Enchelycore propinqua (reddish brown body mottled with irregular creamy white spots), were discovered from the Visakhapatnam coast of the Bay of Bengal.
While Gymnothorax pseudotile is about 1 feet to 1.5 feet long, Gymnothorax visakhaensis is about a foot long. Enchelycore propinqua is the smallest of them measuring less than a foot.
A description of all the three new species was published in the journal Zootaxa .
Anil Mohapatra, a Zoological Survey of India ( ZSI) scientist who is behind all the three discoveries, said that while the specimens of the first two species can be found upon a considerable search, the third one is relatively rare. Scientists and researchers David G. Smith, Subhrendu Sekhar Mishra , Swarup Ranjan Mohanty, Dipanjan Ray and Prasad C. Tudu have contributed to these discoveries.
Eels are found mostly at the bottom of rivers and seas. Across the world about 1,000 species of eels have been identified. In India, the number is around 125. For species belonging to the family Muraenidae , referred commonly as Moray eels, there are records of about 200 species of which more than 30 species are found in India.
With these new discoveries, the Bay of Bengal coast has yielded at least five new species of eel. In 2016, Mr. Mohapatra and his team identified Gymnothorax indicus , an edible species.
In 2015, a short brown unpatterned moray eel, named Gymnothorax mishrai (Bengal moray eel), was discovered from the coast of Bay of Bengal.
The specimens of Gymnothorax pseudotile were collected in a trawl net by fishermen in the northern Bay of Bengal and were gathered by researchers from the Shankarpur fishing harbour, Digha, West Bengal. The specimens of Gymnothorax visakhaensis and Enchelycore propinqua were collected from the Visakhapatnam fishing harbour.
“The newly discovered species are not consumed by people at this moment but with declining marine and freshwater fish resources in the country, the species can be used for food in the future. Gymnothorax pseudotile is a beautiful species and can be used as an ornamental species for aquarium,” Mr. Mohapatra said.