Monday, 19 September 2016

Exclusive: A Fish Called Obama—Newly Discovered Species Named for President

In tribute to his marine conservation efforts in the Pacific, scientist names new species after Hawaii-born president.
This fish will be named in honor of President Obama for his commitment to protecting nature through the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

By Craig Welch


MIDWAY ATOLL, Pacific Ocean—The maroon and gold creature was found 300 feet deep in the waters off Kure Atoll. It's the one fish known to live only within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a pristine expanse of coral reefs and seamounts home to millions of seabirds, endangered turtles, endangered monk seals, and more than 7,000 species.

So scientists thought it only fitting to name this fish, in the genus Tosanoides, after President Barack Obama, who dramatically expanded Papahānaumokuākea last week, creating the largest swath of protected land or water on Earth, an area roughly twice the size of Texas.

On Midway Atoll on Thursday, with a Hawaiian monk seal watching from the beach, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle—a persistent presence in conservationists’ decades-long push to protect these pristine waters—presented the Hawaii-born president with a framed plaque of his new namesake marine species. (Read our exclusive Obama interview.)

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