New species of fish spotted off Rhodes

New species of fish spotted off Rhodes

An alien species of fish has been recorded in Greek seas, according to the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation.

The Cheilodipterus novemstriatus (the Indian Ocean twospot cardinalfish) was spotted by diver Eugenios Loudaros several times during August, east of the southeastern Aegean island of Rhodes, at a depth of 8-9 meters. He noted the also alien long-spined sea urchin, the Diadema setosum, in the same waters.

The Cheilodipterus novemstriatus is commonly found in the Indian and Pacific oceans, but since 2010 it has invaded the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. It was first recorded off the coast of Israel and was soon reported off Lebanon, Turkey, Cyprus and Syria. This year was the first time it was found in Greek waters and its presence was also acknowledged in the Mediterranean Marine Science journal.

It is a small fish, ranging from 2-8 centimeters in length. It feeds mainly on zooplankton and lives in groups of up to 30 at depths of up to 10 meters.

“The location of a new alien species in Greek waters underlines the continuing process of entry and residence in the Mediterranean of species from other, warmer, seas. This is because they find gaps in the ecosystem, gaps that have been caused by our own activities, whether they are related to overfishing and the destruction of the marine environment or climate change, which leads to rising water temperatures and therefore makes them more hospitable to invasive species,” Anastasia Miliou, hydrobiologist and research director at Archipelagos, told Kathimerini.

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