Please say hello to Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa, the rose-veiled fairy wrasse, a newly described fish that looks like it could be a My Little Pony of the sea. The magical-looking creature gets its name from the Dhivehi language of the Maldives where it lives. "Finifenmaa" means rose.
The California Academy of Sciences called the small coral-reef-dwelling fish a "mesmerizing new addition" and a "multicolored marvel" in a release on Tuesday.
The rose-veiled fairy wrasse had been hiding in plain sight. It was first studied by researchers in the 1990s but was mistakenly thought to be a known species. The new study took a fresh look at the fish, including its size, scales and color, and found it was a new-to-science species.
The researchers now have a better idea of the range of the new species and the one it was confused for. Said study co-author Luiz Rocha of the California Academy of Sciences: "It speaks to how much biodiversity there is still left to be described from coral reef ecosystems."
The fish is a stunner, but it's notable for more than its good looks. It marks the first time a Maldivian scientist has formally described a new fish species. Maldives Marine Research Institute biologist Ahmed Najeeb is co-author of a study on the fish, published in the journal ZooKeys this week.
In the Academy of Sciences release, Najeeb said it's "always been foreign scientists who have described species found in the Maldives," without local scientists having much participation. "This time it is different," he said, "and getting to be part of something for the first time has been really exciting, especially having the opportunity to work alongside top ichthyologists on such an elegant and beautiful species."