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There’s a New Coral Reef Fish Named After President Barack Obama

Meet the president’s fishy side.


President Barack Obama coral reef fish.

Undersea explorer Sylvia Earle presents President Barack Obama with a photo of the fish that bears his name during his visit to the Midway Atoll, while filming “Sea of Hope: America’s Underwater Treasures,” premiering on National Geographic Channel on Jan. 15, 2017.
Photo: Brian Skerry/National Geographic


President Barack Obama received a Christmas gift today. 


A new species of coral reef fish discovered in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands now bears his name. Scientists on Dec. 21 dubbed the new fish Tosanoides obama.


SEE ALSO: This National Monument is Home to Rare Species Found Nowhere Else in the World


“We named this fish after President Obama to recognize his efforts to protect and preserve the natural environment, including the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea,” said Richard Pyle, Bishop Museum scientist, in a statement. “This expansion adds a layer of protection to one of the last great wilderness areas on Earth.”


In August, the monument became the largest permanent protected marine area on the planet. It is home to rare species found nowhere else, including a minivan-size sponge and now Tosanoides obama. 


SEE ALSO: This Might Be the World’s Largest Known Sea Sponge, Discovered Off Hawai‘i Waters



Tosanoides obama

Photo: Richard L. Pyle/Bishop Museum


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists discovered the tiny new fish in June during a 300-foot dive near the Kure Atoll, approximately 1,200 miles northwest of Honolulu. The fish is part of the basset species, which are colorful reef fish found in most home aquariums. 


This is not the first species named after Obama. There’s Barack Obama trapdoor spider and an extinct lizard called Obamadon gracilis


Does the president get to take Tosanoides obama home? Let’s not hold our breath. 


Read More Stories by Diane Lee 


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Honolulu Magazine November 2018
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