A new report has collated the 201 species of freshwater fish previously unrecorded by science that were first described during 2022.
The New Species 2022 report from Shoal shines a light on these newly described species to help deepen human understanding of the richness of the freshwater biodiversity on Earth, and about how these freshwater species interact with their environment and other organisms.
During 2022, 201 new species of freshwater fish were recorded by taxonomists as being new to science, with many of the descriptions being the result of many years of hard work by researchers.
Highlights of the report include the jewel-like black tiger dario, the Juan Deriba killifish, which can leap out of the water and stay on dry land for many hours at a time to avoid predation, and nine species of paracanthopomas, a genus of blood-sucking catfish that aside from vampire bats, are the only jawed vertebrates on the planet to feed exclusively on blood.
Of the 201 fish described in the report, 88 were from South America, 68 from Asia, 25 from Africa, 9 from Oceania, 8 from Europe, and 3 from North America. The total of 201 compares to 212 new freshwater fish species described in last year’s inaugural report covering 2021.
Shoal is a global collaborative initiative backed by UK charity Synchronicity Earth and US non-profit organization Re:wild to halt the extinction and recover populations of the most threatened freshwater species in the wild.
The Shoal New Species 2022 report is produced in partnership with the California Academy of Sciences, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Freshwater Fish Specialist Group.
Shoal’s executive director Michael Baltzer said: “Shoal’s New Species reports shine a much-needed light on a group of creatures that get very little attention.”
Kathy Hughes, co-chair of the IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, added: “It may come as a surprise to some to learn that hundreds of freshwater fish species are described every
year. But it shows just how much there is for us to learn about what lies beneath the surface of the planet’s freshwaters.
“More than half of all fish species live in freshwater, which is remarkable considering less than 1% of Earth’s water is liquid freshwater. Yet humans have historically neglected and mistreated freshwater habitats, meaning that many of these incredible species are at risk of being lost. The reports put a much-needed spotlight on these species, which will ultimately give them a greater chance of being saved.”