Athens December 20th 2014
During a diving trip to Kuwait* in June 2014, Aris Vidalis and I took some photos of a weird-looking fish swimming upside-down in a dark cavern on a coral reef slope at 9 meters depth.
The pics were later identified as the Oman Blenny, a tiny yellowish fish known to be an endemic to Oman and rarely reported in the tropical reef fish literature. Endemic means found only in Oman!!! The type locality where this tiny fish was first described (in 1985) is 1500 kms from Kuwait in the Indian Ocean! So we decided to publish this. Although we have not caught the fish, and it is only a single individual we carefully identified it with the assistance of our good colleague Dr. Ronald Fricke who knows tropical fishes well.
The record is now published in the rather prestigious journal CBM (Cahiers de Biologie Marine) which is run out of the Roscoff Biological Station and has an Impact Factor of about 0.62 (in 2013). I want to thank the editors for featuring the discovery on the periodical's front page (above) and hope this promotes more inventory research of cryptobenthic reef fishes in Kuwait (and the Gulf).
As the article was uploaded just two days ago in my Research Gate account already more than 35 downloads have taken place and I got an interesting reply from Dr. Uwe Zajonz of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt:
"Gill and Zajonz reported [the Oman Blenny] in 2011 (p.11) already from Socotra (a visual observation through), hence its surely not endemic to Oman and we may assume now a relatively wide distribution range in the Arabian region, perhaps the entire area apart of the Red Sea".
So basically, this promotes the hypothesis that the fish is truly more widespread and not at all an endemic to Oman (and perhaps not brought into the Gulf as some kind of invader in taker balast waters; read our paper for more on this). Until now there are very few sightings of the fish in Oman or in the Yemen. So, please look out for this fish in the Persian/Arabian Gulf and the West Indian Ocean to help delineate its distribution.
You can read our paper at: Zogaris et al. CBM
* Our deepest gratitude to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Company (KUFPEC) for funding our volunteer research and nature conservation efforts in the Gulf.