Deepwater lights – an unusual fish ….

 Oceanic lightfish (Vinciguerria nimbaria) discovered in East London

Beacon Bay resident, Peter Tyldesley, was walking the stretch of coast between the Nahoon River  and Bonza Bay when he happened upon a tiny unusual fish species. Not familiar with the silvery fish but noting a set of photophores (specialised structures that emit light) he saved the specimen and later presented it to the East London Museum.

Museum fish specialist Greg Brett was intrigued and immediately commented that the photophores indicated a deep dwelling oceanic species. He proceeded to key the species to establish identification by using the seminal Smith’s Sea Fishes of Southern Africa.

After some deliberation he settled on the species being an Oceanic lightfish, Vinciguerria nimbaria, which was also confirmed by fish expert Phil Heemstra, Curator Emeritus of the SA Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity in Grahamstown.

These tiny fish (reaching a total length of only 4.8 cm) live in the oceanic water column at depths of between 200-400 meters. They migrate vertically in the water column feeding predominantly on copepods (minute marine crustaceans) during the afternoon and early evening. They have a wide distribution around the world.

The scientific name of the fish is named after Deco Vinciguerria (1856-1934) an Italian ichthyologist from Genova.

Pic: Peter Tyldesley

Pic: Peter Tyldesley

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About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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