While conducting a survey in the western Pacific Ocean near Japan and the Philippines, researchers came across several brightly colored fish with unique characteristics — they were a new species.
Researchers determined that the creatures are a new species of scorpionfish, Neomerinthe ignea, according to a study published Nov. 6 in the journal Ichthyological Research. Also know as the Pacific-flame Scorpionfish, the fish were previously confused with another, similar species of Neomerinthe.
Neomerinthe are typically found in tropical and temperate Indo-Pacific waters, the study said. The creatures are distinguished by the 12 spines on their dorsal-fins, their 24 vertebrae, and their unique scales and teeth.
The new species of Neomerinthe is distinguished from others by its unique spines and scales, according to the study.
The fish are bright orange to reddish white and have black blotches on their bodies, scientists said. Their eyes have a black pupil and their irises are mottled with black and yellow bars radiating from the center.
Researchers said they collected 38 specimens of the “small” fish, which range in length from about 1.5 inches to about 3.5 inches. The Pacific-flame Scorpionfish have a “steep” snout, compressed body and “large” mouth filled with short, pointy teeth.
The new species has tentacles covering its body, with especially dense areas on the side of its body near its head and associated with its spines, according to experts. The tentacles range in size from “large” to “minute.”
Scientists named the new species after the Latin word for “fiery” because of its body and tentacle color, according to the study.