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A Rainbow Beneath the Waves

A Rainbow Beneath the Waves

Perhaps you remember the children's book, The Rainbow Fish… well a brand new species has been identified that might be even more colorful! Check out Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa, also known as the rose-veiled fairy wrasse, found in the Maldives in southeast Asia. 

The fairy wrasse lives just above the mesopelagic zone, between 40-70 meters below sea level. At such a depth, its colors really pop once you put a light on it! A neon red head eases into a yellow body and fins, with the fish's tail turning purple. The edges of its fins are rimmed with a powerful blue color that almost makes it look like a sunset painted over a fish!

As it turns out, though the species was described for the first time in March, it was found all the way back in the 90s! What took so long for it to be named a species? Well, originally it was thought to have been a young member of a seperate wrasse species in Chagos. Wrasses can be especially hard to identify as the vibrant colors on their bodies change over the course of their lives. When scientists looked at footage of adults from the Maldives and Chagos side by side though, they realized they were actually looking at different animals altogether!

Divers found eight other fish during this process that they think may belong to new species as well. The dive was part of an initiative to show how diverse and still unexplored ocean life is and garner support to save reef ecosystems. Even now, we don't know the full extent of what amazing creatures could be living beneath the waves!

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