A joint team of Filipino and Japanese biologists recently announced the discovery of two new species of gobies found only in Palawan.
Rhinogobius estrellae was named after the Estrella Falls where it was first discovered, while Rhinogobius tadikan was named for the striking resemblance of its blue body markings to those of the ‘tandikan’ bird or the Palawan peacock-pheasant.
The announcement follows the discovery earlier this year of an equally endemic Palawan goby fish that sports a distinctive red coloring, which prompted scientists to call it Lentipes palawanirufus – Latin for “red-headed goby Lentipes de Palawan “.
In general, the goby is a type of freshwater fish common in several places in the Philippines. Other local species include Gobius criniger (known as “biya” in Tagalog, “bunog” in Ilocano and “parog” in Waray) and Mystichthys luzonensis (commonly known as “sinarapan” and touted as the world’s smallest edible fish. ).
The freshwater goby fish genus Rhinogobius is widely distributed throughout East and Southeast Asia, from Russia to Vietnam, but these new species are the most southerly where the genus has been found.
R. estrellae and R. tandikan are distinguished from their cousins by the number of thorns in their fins as well as by the number and arrangement of their scales.
The discovery, made by researchers at the Western Philippines University College of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences in cooperation with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University and other Japanese institutions, was published in the journal Zootaxa in November this year.