Emperor of Japan Co-authors Encyclopedic Work on Japanese Gobies

Emperor Akihito is an expert on goby species of Japan

Emperor Akihito also contributes several illustrations to “Fishes of Japan with Pictorial Keys to the Species, Third Edition” by Tokai University Press, the Asahi Shimbun reports. Since 1993, the emperor has authored a section on “Suborder Gobioidei” which includes information on 518 goby species native to Japanese waters.

These included the mudskipper (family Gobiidae) and the elegant firefish (Nemateleotris decora), which Akihito is credited with discovering and had a role in naming, along with Empress Michiko. Suborder Gobioidei includes close to 500 illustrations, including some drawn by the emperor himself, the paper reports, that describe the characteristics and the morphology of each species.

The book, in three volumes has approximately 2,500 pages. It was edited by Kyoto University professor Tetsuji Nakabo.

“We are convinced that the book will present the precise status of fish species that inhabit Japan and the rest of East Asia and provide basic and valuable insight into biogeography, fisheries science and environmental protection studies,” Nakabo said at an event that unveiled the works.  According to the paper, Nakabo visited the emperor monthly on the grounds of the Imperial Palace and had discussions with the emperor and three staff members of the palace’s Biological Laboratory who were co-authors of the book.

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The emperor, a member of the Ichthyological Society of Japan is no stranger to the study of fish. He co-authored a scientific paper on the evolutionary aspects of gobioid fishes and 50 years ago studied the bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), an American cichlid fish that somehow found its way into Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, destroying the native populations of royal bitterling and wreaking havoc on other native species. According to a BBC report, the emperor was pained by the unintended consequences caused by the invasive bluegill.  


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