What has no eyes, no scales and a represents a new genus?

Photo: Boris Sket/Revue Suisse de Zoologie

Photo: Boris Sket/Revue Suisse de Zoologie

Draconectes narinosus, a kind of loach that was just found in southeast Asia by researchers working with Flora & Fauna International. The little fish’s name is combination of Greek and Latin. “Drakon” means dragon and “nectes” means swimmer in Greek, while “narinosus” is Latin for “with big nostrils.”

Since the loach lives in the dark caves of Van Gio Island in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, it doesn’t need eyes or scales. As strange as this guy sounds, his features actually aren’t that unusual for fishes living in this kind of environment.

What is unusual is how the loach has survived. Most fishes that live in subterranean lakes are cut out only for freshwater, and narinosus is no exception. But, unlike other cave-dwellers, narinosus has an extremely limited habitat. The arms of Van Gio Island are very long and narrow, only about 1,300 feet across, and the loach’s lake habitat is only 650 feet from the ocean. It wouldn’t take much to flood the lake with salty water.

While narinosus isn’t the only loach in the area, it is the only Draconectes. Researchers will continue to comb Ha Long Bay for other members of the genus.


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