Scientists discover new eel species from Kerala, Bengal
Most eel groups possess less economic value and sampling of these groups has been rare in Indian waters, the scientists say
A group of Indian scientists have discovered a new species of eel from among specimens collected from the Kalamukku and Digha Mohana fishing harbours in Kerala and West Bengal respectively. Their study was published in the Journal of Fish Biology March 30, 2022.
The newly discovered eel belongs to the Congrid eels group and has been named Ariosoma indicum. The term Indicum means that it was found in India, Anil Mohapatra, senior scientist with the Zoological Survey of India’s Gopalpur-on-Sea centre and co-author of the paper told this reporter.
The scientists had collected 12 specimens from Kalamukku and seven specimens from Digha Mohana in 2020 for studies, Mohapatra said.
Scientists from the Indian Council of Agriculture Research-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBFGR), Lucknow and the Estuarine Biology Regional Centre, Zoological Survey of India, Gopalpur-on-Sea, Odisha, confirmed Ariosoma indicum as a new species after two years of through research, taxonomic studies and molecular analysis.
NBFGR is working on India’s fish genetic resources for intellectual property protection and sustainable utilisation.
The total length of the new species is 362 millimetres. The eel has the following features according to the paper-
- A greenish-brown body, with faint dark bands on the dorsal portion of the head
- Minute dark pigmentation patches on the extremities of the lower jaw
- Bicoloured pectoral fin
- A short wedge-shaped pointed vomerine teeth patch, with three or four rows in the anterior portion
Ariosoma indicum is possibly distributed along the Indian coast, including the coastal waters of Kerala and West Bengal. The Ariosoma genus has seven species, including the newly identified eel that have been documented in Indian waters. Globally, there are 223 species in the genus, Mohapatra said.
Most of these eels have landed as by-catch in trawl landings, he added. Most eel groups possess less economic value and sampling of these groups has been rare in Indian waters, Mohapatra noted.
‘The new eel species is not listed as ‘Threatened’ or ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,’ Mohapatra said.
Further study of the new species is needed to find out its nutritional status, he added.
The study was titled as Ariosoma indicum sp.nov. A new species of congrid eel (Anguilliformes- Congridae-Bathymyrnae) from the Indian waters.
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