Researchers in the Maldives have recently unveiled the existence of the rose-veiled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa), a stunning multicoloured fish species living in the twilight reefs, correcting a decades-long misidentification as the red velvet fairy wrasse.
Discovery of the Rose-Veiled Fairy Wrasse
Researchers in the Maldives have recently identified a previously misidentified fish species, known as the rose-veiled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa), which inhabits twilight reefs. This newly discovered fish species is undoubtedly one of the top Maldives tourist attractions that one may come across during a snorkelling journey offered by the likes of VARU by Atmosphere. This discovery corrects decades-long confusion where the fish was mistakenly identified as the red velvet fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis), a closely related species found in the western Indian Ocean.
Unique Habitat of Twilight Reefs
The rose-veiled fairy wrasse and its misidentified counterpart, the red velvet fairy wrasse, both inhabit mesophotic coral reefs, commonly referred to as “twilight reefs.” These twilight reefs are located at remarkable depths, ranging from 100 to 490 feet (30 to 149 metres) below the ocean’s surface, making them distinct from shallower tropical coral reefs.
Visual Distinctions Between Male and Female Rose-Veiled Fairy Wrasses
Male and female rose-veiled fairy wrasses exhibit striking differences in their appearance, with females primarily displaying hues of red, pink, and blue, similar to the red velvet fairy wrasse. In contrast, male rose-veiled fairy wrasses exhibit distinct orange and yellow hues on their scales, setting them apart from their closely related counterpart.
Genetic and Morphological Distinctions
Comprehensive analysis, including DNA sequencing and examination of morphological characteristics, confirmed the distinctiveness of the rose-veiled fairy wrasse (C. finifenmaa) from the red velvet fairy wrasse (C. rubrisquamis). Researchers identified variations in the number of scales in specific body regions and differences in the height of dorsal spines, reinforcing the conclusion that these two species are genetically and morphologically separate entities.