Researchers from Chile and the United States made a discovery in an unprecedented study on reefs of the island. Specimens will be given rapa nui names to honor the local culture.
Five new species, four fish and one type of hedgehog, were discovered on Easter Island by scientists at the California Academy of Sciences and U. Catolica. The finding was made last month in the context of an unpublished research. So far the marine studies on the reefs had taken place in depths of 40 meters, but now it was reached up to 120 meters deep.
“Easter Island has a relatively long history of research on its shallow coral reefs, but this is the first time that a scientific team has explored deep reefs,” explains Luiz Rocha, an ichthyologist (fish biologist). California Academy of Sciences.
Alejandro Pérez-Matus, a scientist at the Center for Marine Conservation and Coastal Research Station at the UC, says that until now the name of the genus to which the species belong has been known, but to give them their definitive name will take some time.
Among the findings is a castanet of the family Pomacéntridos, whose first image was obtained by an underwater robot that was used in an earlier expedition. There are also fish of the genus Pseudanthias and Anatolanthias. “When we describe these and other new species of fish from the expedition, we will choose rapa nui names to honor the local people and culture,” Perez says.
The first to discover the discovery were the members of the Table of the Sea (Te Mau or Te Vaikava or Rapa Nui), an organization that brings together 20 local groups of the island. “This demonstrates the respect on the part of Alejandro and his team for the island (…). He has understood during his years of work here the importance of the human dimension in scientific work and is a way of keeping alive the memory of great Rapa Nui people who were a pillar in their history, “says Ludovic Burns Tuki, Executive Director of Mesa, on the idea of baptizing local species.