Courtesy of NOAA.
Two new species of pancake batfishes have been discovered by researchers in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Reuters. The population of one of the newly discovered varieties may be restricted entirely to the area of the oil spill, John Sparks of the American Museum of Natural History claims.
Batfish are bottom-dwelling and identified primarily by the manner in which they drag themselves along using arm-like appendages. They have characteristically flat bodies and large heads. The fish extend their mouths from their bodies and lure prey in the depths with excretions from a modified dorsal fin.
The two new species, named Halieutichthys intermedius and H. bispinosus in the Journal of Fish Biology, and H. aculeatus, previously identified, all live in areas of the Gulf affected by the BP oil spill. Two of the three species may live exclusively in the area of the spill, according to researchers.
"These discoveries underscore the potential loss of undocumented biodiversity that a disaster of this scale may portend," Sparks says.