Legendary 'Blue Bastard Fish' Identified as a New Species
For decades, local fishermen have shared stories of the elusive “blue bastard fish” that reside in the tropical rivers of northern Australia and fight each other by kissing. When scientists decided to officially recognized the species, the colloquial nickname stuck.
The Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus (caeruleo is Latin for blue and nothus for bastard) had been previously dismissed as a painted sweetlips fish instead of a new species of its own. The waters it inhabits are fairly murky and home to crocodiles, which is why for a long time its existence was only known to locals and fly fishermen. The blue bastard has also proven difficult to catch, earning it its affectionate nickname, and it wasn’t until fisherman Ben Bright sent a few lucky catches to be tested at the Queensland Museum that it was recognized as a distinct species of sweetlips fish.
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The blue bastard is pale, opalescent blue in color and can grow up to a meter in length. One of its more fascinating behaviors is its tendency to lock jaws with rival males and struggle at the surface for minutes at time. Local fisherman refer this as “kissing,” but the act is much less tender than the name would suggest.
Every year, 30 new fish species are discovered in Australian waters alone. That's a lot of potential fish tales waiting to be confirmed.