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New Species of Reef Fish Named for President Obama

National Geographic

Researchers naming new species of reef fish for the President. 

Scientists have discovered a new species of fish off Hawaii’s Kure Atoll and they’ve decided to name it for President Barack Obama.

Marine biologist Richard Pyle was the first to spot the fish during a deep water research trip to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument back in June. He was able to catch both a male and female of the species. It was later he was able to confirm a new species of a genus of fish known as Tosanoides.

Interestingly, this is the first time a member of the Tosanoides genus has been found somewhere other than Japan.

As for why they decided to name the fish after President Obama, there are several reasons. For one, it was found in the waters of the President’s home state. Researchers also saw it as a way to thank him for expanding the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Monument recently.

They also noted a small spot feature of the male fish’s fin made naming the fish after Obama seemed appropriate. “It’s very reminiscent of Obama’s [campaign] logo,” Pyle told National Geographic. “How appropriate that a fish we were thinking about naming after him anyway, just to say thank you for expanding the national monument, happens to have a feature that ties it to the president.”

National Geographic

Obama was in Hawaii on Thursday and was presented with a plaque of the fish by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Dr. Sylvia Earle.

“Am I wrong here, or is there a familiar name in the middle of this?” Obama said after first seeing the fish. “This is a nice-looking fish.”

The official name isn’t being published just yet, not until researchers publish a description of the species later this year. Amazingly, this is actually the second fish to be named after Obama.

A species of freshwater darter, Etheostoma Obama, was named after him in 2012.

National Geographic reports it’s actually a pretty common thing for scientists to name new species of plants or animals after Presidents. Roosevelt, Washington, Carter and Clinton have all been honored in the past.



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New Species of Reef Fish Named for President Obama