VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. (Oct. 22, 2007) When David Jones, a fisheries oceanographer at the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) located at the University of Miamis Rosenstiel School, set out to design a better light trap to collect young reef fishes, he never imagined his invention would contribute to the discovery of a new species. But, after finding a goby that didnt quite fit any known description, his catch turned out to be the answer to another scientists twenty-five-year-old research conundrum. The larval stage captured in Joness new trap was matched to the adult form of a previously unknown species of reef fish by new DNA barcoding technologywhich confirmed both were members of a new species.
Jones and his team deployed his new light traps in the deep tropical waters surrounding Banco Chinchorro, a remote coral reef atoll off Mexicos Costa Maya which was recently designated as a Marine Biosphere Reserve. The traps capture fish larvae in a manner similar to a fishermans minnow trap, but attract them with a programmable lighting system enclosed in a submersible housing. The lights entice marine organisms to enter the trap like a moth to a flame. Joness innovative trap intercepts fish returning to the reef at the end of their journey as larvae through the treacherous waters of the open ocean. This allows researchers access to species normally inaccessible by traditional sampling methods, such as those that occupy deep recesses within the reef as adults.
Working with scientists from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) in Mexico, we retrieved the nightly catches of the light traps each morning. The traps performed well, collecting live specimens from a diverse range of reef fish species. Each evening we meticulously sorted and identified our catch, using a microscope to count fin rays, scales, and bones and examine pigmentation patterns that distinguish species. I came across one specimen of goby that wasnt quite r
|Contact: Barbra Gonzalez|
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science