A bucket list item for many REEF surveyors - discovering a new species. And even better, getting a species named after you. This has happened a handful of times over the last couple of decades, and one of our surveyors now has the honor of it happening twice! One of REEF's most prolific surveyors, Janet Eyre, now has a beautiful shrimpgoby named in her honor after discovering the fish on a recent trip to Indonesia. After seeing and photographing the mystery fish, Janet communicated with fish taxonomists, providing images and an exact location of where the fish was sighted, enabling the collection of type specimens. The new species was described and named Janet's Shrimpgoby (Tomiyamichthys eyreae), and was published in the journal aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology last month. In 2015, her quest for getting a fish named after her first became a reality when she found an unidentified goby in Fiji. It was later described as Eviota eyreae, Eyre's Dwarfgoby.
Here’s Janet’s telling of first finding the new shrimpgoby species… “The funniest thing is that in reality my fish found me! I was swimming around over sand at 80’ off Daram Island in southern Raja Ampat (Indonesia) when this fish swam right up to my belly. Imagine my physical gyrations as I tried to get a photo of it as it is trying to get as close to me as it can. Finally, it decided I wasn’t such a great hiding place and started swimming away. That was when I was able to get a few shots. I sent the photos to fish taxonomists Gerry Allen and Mark Erdmann who said it looked like an undescribed Tomiyamichthys (a genus of shrimpgoby). I was more surprised to hear that it was a shrimpgoby than I was to hear it was undescribed, as shrimpgobies live symbiotically in burrows in the sand with blind shrimp. I had never seen one out free swimming before. Fortunately, Mark was scheduled to be in the area where I had seen it later that month. I don’t think it took him long to find a pair living with their shrimp. What is a bit surprising is that no one had seen it before, probably because it is quite localized and Daram Island isn’t one of the “known” hot sites of Raja Ampat (my thanks to the Dewi Nusantara, the boat I was on, which likes to go to and find out of the way places). But now that it has been discovered, I expect people diving around Daram Island to find and record it. Looking back on how I “discovered” my shrimpgoby, I feel that it found me…our relationship was somehow pre-ordained…how else can one explain the events?”