This is one of the world’s largest, most endangered, and most mysterious air-breathing fish!
National Geographic recently reported that a new species of the giant air-breathing fish known as the Arapaima has been discovered in Guyana.
Scientists suggest these fish can grow up to 10 feet in length and reach around 400 pounds.
Nat Geo’s explorer Donald J. Stewart recently published the new findings that revealed the evidence for the new species of arapaima. According to the original report, the team was able to take samples of hundred of fish from the Essequibo and Branco River basins. They uncovered two different sets of fish with extremely distinct genetic markers.
The concept surrounding this genetic find is that because the fish have not bred across the two groups for so long, they have become different enough to be categorized as separate species.
“If you have two types of fish swimming along together but not interbreeding, that’s pretty good evidence they are new species,” Stewart explains. “But we still have to work out the details.”
Classifying these fish is just the beginning. Nat Geo suggests the species continues to remain highly endangered due to pollution and disruption of their natural habitat. While laws were passed back in 2002 to help protect the fish, some illegal poaching still goes on.
At this moment scientists are unsure exactly how many arapaimas are actually out there.
“We need to pay attention to this diversity so we don’t eliminate one of them,” says Stewart.
Stewart continued to suggest that the species was as important to conserve as a “tiger or an elephant.”