A group of scientists from Maharashtra and Kerala has named a new species of freshwater fish spotted in Western Ghat after a Manipur University teacher.
They have named the news species after Manipur University professor Vishwanath Waikhom.
This new species has been named as Waikhomia hira.
‘Waikhomia’ is in honour of the professor and ‘hira’ means diamond and refers to the small symmetrical, rhomboidal spots on the sides of the fish.
Rajeev Raghavan, assistant professor of the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, said it was a tribute to Professor Waikhom for his exemplary contributions to improving “our knowledge on freshwater fishes of North East India”, and for promoting fish taxonomy as a science in the country.
“Prof Vishwanath has discovered and described the maximum number of freshwater fishes than any other living fish taxonomist in India,” he said.
Prof Vishwanath’s team has so far discovered nearly 100 freshwater fish species since the discovery of Puntius jayaremi, locally known as ‘heikak nga’ in 1986, adding to more than 200 fish species in Manipur alone.
Raghavan, along with Unmesh Katwate of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), Pradeep Kumar of Modern College, Pune, and Neelesh Dahanukar of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, discovered the new fish species.
The outcomes of their work were published in the leading international journal, Zootaxa, on June 29.
‘Maharaja barbs’, a member of the freshwater family and endemic to the high-altitude streams of the northern Western Ghats are currently represented by a single species, Puntius sahyadriensis.
It was described from the streams of the Yenna river basin close to the city of Mahabaleshwar in the Western Ghats mountain range in 1953.
“But our studies now showed that this species does not belong to the genus, Puntius, and therefore, we assigned a new genus name, Waikhomia. While undertaking this study, we found that there is an additional species to (Puntius) sahyadriensis and we described it as Waikhomia hira,” Raghavan added.