Blue Bastard: How’s That For a Newly Recognized Fish?

Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus is new to science but not Australian fishermen.

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The blue bastard is famous in Australian fishing circles as extremely hard to catch. Photo by Queensland Museum
John Virata

It is known as the blue bastard in Australian sport fishing circles because it is a “bastard to catch,” but the blue bastard (Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus), a newly described species of reef fish, is distinctly different from the fish that science previously thought it was due to the fact that it has 12 dorsal spines, making it a totally different species of sweetlips that folks thought it had been. Its scientific name reflects the difficulty in which this species is caught by anglers. Caeruleo means blue in Latin, and nothus? That is bastard in Latin.

The blue bastard isn’t always blue. In fact, according to The Guardian, the fish, which hails from northern Australian reef waters, is yellow with dark and light stripes as a juvenile, before it turns into the blue of bastard fame. It grows to more than 1 meter in length and is known to lock jaws and grapple with conspecifics on the water’s surface. Australian fishermen call this fighting “kissing” but hey its a blue bastard doing the kissing.

The blue bastard is yellow with dark and light stripes as a juvenile. Photo by Queensland Museum

Queensland Museum scientist Jeff Johnson worked with geneticist Jessica Worthington Wilmer to sequence the DNA code of the blue bastard to determine it was a new species. They looked at other sweetlips species from Africa, the Middle East and Japan to conclude that the fish was a new species, but not new to the Aussies who have a heck of a time trying to catch this fish.

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Article Categories:
Fish · Freshwater Fish