'Blue bastard': Australian scientists finally identify fish

Queensland Museum took inspiration from anglers' nickname

Rose Troup Buchanan
Tuesday 08 September 2015 09:25
Usually only seen by fighermen, the 'blue bastard' has finally been formally identified
Usually only seen by fighermen, the 'blue bastard' has finally been formally identified

Australian scientists have formally identified a species previously known only as the “blue bastard” of the North Australian coast by local fishermen.

The Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus was christened by Queensland Museum scientist Jeff Johnson after he identified the new species from photographs taken last year.

Mr Johnson took inspiration from the original nickname: "Caeruleo is blue and nothus is bastard. That was the origin of the name applied by fishermen for many years and I thought, why should I argue with that?

“It seemed like a perfect name for me,” he told the Guardian.

Blue Bastards were so-named because of the distinctive colour of their scales and the difficulty many fishermen had in catching one. They inhabit shark-infested waters off Australia's northern coast.

A notoriously aggressive fish, which can grow up to a metre long, anglers often reported seeing pairs viciously fighting on the waters’ surface in a style known as “kissing”. As babies the fish have yellow and dark stripes, before changing its scales in adulthood.

Mr Johnson was helped by geneticist Jessica Worthington Wilmer, who analysed species from as far afield as the Middle East, Africa and Japan to link the fish to the sweetlip breed.

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