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Purple 'twilight zone-dweller' fish named after Wakanda

By Caroline Chebet | July 12th 2019 at 12:00:35 GMT +0300

The newly discovered fish named after Black Panther's mythical nation, Wakanda. The dazzling new 'Vibranium' Fairy Wrasse enchants with purple scales. 

Scientists have discovered a new species of brightly-colored fish named after Wakanda, the fictional country and a home of marvel Black Panther in the hit movie.

The 6cm fish was found in the ‘twilight zone’, 200ft beneath the ocean's  surface off the coast of Zanzibar, Tanzania.

In a research that was published on Science Daily on July 11, the scientists named the fish with deep purple scales Wakanda in honour of the fictitious nation, a home to sensation Black Panther.

The scientists said the vibrant purple scales of the fish reminded them of Black Panther’s suit lined with powerful yet rare vibranium metal.

They then gave the fish its common name as Cirrhilabrus wakanda (common name "Vibranium Fairy Wrasse") in honour of the mythical nation from the comics and movie Black Panther.

"When we thought about the secretive and isolated nature of these unexplored African reefs, we knew we had to name this new species after Wakanda," says Yi-Kai Tea, lead author and PhD student from the University of Sydney.

The new discovery revealed that both male and female Wakandas boast a vibrant purple colour with a pair of facial stripes above their eyes.

Their fins and tails are also a beautiful two-toned color. The fish species joins a family of seven other fairy wrasse species in the western Indian Ocean, with some extended fishy relatives in the Pacific.

Tea said together with his team of deep-diving scientists from the California Academy of Sciences and the University of Sydney, they spotted dazzling fairy fish previously unknown to science. The species were found in ‘the dimly lit deep coral reefs’ of eastern Zanzibar. Such areas, scientists say, are ‘twilight zones’

 ‘Twilight’ zones, according to scientists, are unique ecosystems bursting with life deep in the oceans. These zones are spread across the world but scientists say they are often overlooked ecosystems.

"We have known about other related fairy wrasses from the Indian Ocean, but always thought there was a missing species along the continent's eastern edge. When I saw this amazing purple fish, I knew instantly we were dealing with the missing piece of the puzzle," Tea said in a statement dated July 11, 2019.

 In the press statement, the scientists noted that Africa prides itself in the discovery of the dazzling new 'Vibranium' Fairy Wrasse with enchanting purple scales and a preference for deep, little-known reefs located up to 260 feet below the surface.

 “Africa has new purple-clad warriors more than 200 feet beneath the ocean's surface. Deep-diving scientists from the California Academy of Sciences and the University of Sydney spotted dazzling fairy wrasses--previously unknown to science--in the dimly lit deep coral reefs of eastern Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania,” the statement read.

The twilight-zone reef dweller, spot deep purple scales and retain their colour when preserved for research. Other fish usually lose their colour when retained.

The scientists say the late discovery of the fish in their remote home deep in the coral reefs below recreational diving limits contributed to their long-hidden status in the shadows of the Indian Ocean.


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