Other States

Two new eel species discovered

Gymnothorax andamanensis  

Two new species of marine eel were discovered and documented in August this year by Estuarine Biology Regional Centre (EBRC) of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) at Gopalpur-on-sea in Odisha.

One of them is a short brown un-patterned moray eel now named ‘Gymnothorax andamanensesis’. Two specimens of this eel were caught at 2-metre deep waters in the south Andaman coast by J. Praveenraj of the Division of Fisheries Science, ICAR-Central Island Agricultural Research Institute, Port Blair, on March 18. It had been sent to ZSI Gopalpur for identification.

Dr. Anil Mohapatra, Scientist at Gopalpur ZSI, and his associate Swarup Ranjan, after a detailed study, identified the specimens as a complete new species, which was acknowledged by scientific journals. Till now, 10 species of short brown unpatterned moray eels have been discovered in the world, out of which two were found in Indian waters. With this new discovery, the number of short brown un-patterned moray eels discovered from the Indian coast has increased to three.

Similarly, a new white-spotted moray eel, now named ‘Gymnothorax smithi’ has also been identified by the Gopalpur ZSI’s scientists. Its first specimen was found from the 200-metres deep waters of the Arabian Sea in 2011. Recently, a few more specimens of this undiscovered species were collected from the southeastern Arabian Sea, off the Kerala coast. These specimens had also reached the Gopalpur ZSI for identification.

Marine eels are mostly found in shallow waters but some of them live offshore in sandy or clayey bottoms ranging up to 500 metres. According Dr. Mohapatra, till now, 49 species of moray eel from 10 genera had been reported from Indian waters, and their species numbers have increased to 50 with the new addition.

“Marine biodiversity is still considerably unexplored in India, which has a long coast line. Increased knowledge about it through exploration will be a great help in its conservation and proper utilisation,” said Dr. Mohapatra.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 5:49:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/two-new-species-of-eels-discovered/article29292101.ece

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