On May 31, 2020, Researchers at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) found a rare bandtail scorpionfish from Sethukarai coast in the Gulf of Mannar. This was the first time that the particular species was found alive in Indian waters during the exploratory survey of the seagrass ecosystem.
i.Dr R Jeyabaskaran, Senior Scientist CMFRI, led the team of researchers in finding the fish. The fish is called “scorpionfish” because its spines contain neurotoxic venom.
ii.The specimen was deposited in the National Marine Biodiversity Museum of the CMFRI and the research work was published in the latest issue of the journal “Current Science”.
iii.During the underwater survey, this species was first sighted as a coral skeleton. It was totally confused on its first appearance & doubted if it was a fish or fossilised coral skeleton covered with bivalve shells.
About rare bandtail scorpionfish:
i.The band-tail scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis neglecta), camouflaged within the seagrass meadows, is known for its stinging venomous spines and ability to change colour.
ii.The fish has the ability to change colour and blend with its surrounding environment to escape from predators and while hunting its prey.
iii.The fish have a highly powerful sensory system, it could even detect ventilation flows produced by crabs at a distance of 10 cm in a dark environment. It uses its lateral sensory system instead of eyes to hunt its prey, unlike other fish.
Other Key Points:
i.According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the Gulf of Mannar hosts 4,223 species of plants and animals representing from primitive to higher forms making it one of the richest coastal regions in India.
Sethukarai is a famous pilgrimage centre in Tamil Nadu connected to Indian mythology. It is believed that Lord Ram constructed a bridge over the sea from Sethukarai to Sri Lanka.
The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute was established by the Government of India (GOI) on February 3, 1947, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and later it joined the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) family in 1967.
Headquarters– Kochi, Kerala.
Director– Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan.