A reel honor: Scientists name new fish after Obama

Posted at 2:15 AM, Sep 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-03 02:15:58-04

It isn’t exactly a squid pro quo, but scientists are naming a new fish after President Barack Obama partly as a way to say thanks for his decision last month to create a new protected area off the Hawaiian coast.

National Geographic reported Friday that the maroon and gold creature, which was discovered 300 feet deep in the waters off Kure Atoll, is the only known fish to live within Papahānaumokuākea, an expanse of coral reefs and seamounts home to more than 7,000 species.

Last week, Obama established the largest protected marine sanctuary in the world when he more than quadrupled the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to protect reefs, marine life habitats and other resources. The expansion will add 442,781 square miles to the monument, making it now a total of 582,578 square miles.

The dorsal fin coloration of the male is a circular red spot ringed with blue which scientists said reminded them of Obama’s campaign logo.

“It’s very reminiscent of Obama’s (campaign) logo,” Richard Pyle, a marine biologist, told the magazine. “How appropriate that a fish we were thinking about naming after him anyway, just to say thank you for expanding the national monument, happens to have a feature that ties it to the President.”

The species was discovered this past June during a research trip to Kure, the world’s northernmost atoll, National Geographic reported.

Pyle and his colleagues later confirmed that the fish was a new species — the first member of the genus Tosanoides found outside of Japanese waters.

One looking for the fish’s official name, however, is likely to stay hooked — a formal description of the species isn’t expected to be published until later this year.

This is not the first time Obama has had a fish named after him.

Scientists named an aqua and orange speckled freshwater darter found in the Tennessee River Etheostoma Obama in 2012. At the time, scientists named others of the more than 200 species of darters discovered after other presidents.