KARACHI: A rare deep-sea species, identified as the polka-dot ribbon fish, was safely released by fishermen who caught it in a gillnet off Churna Island on Wednesday.
The fish, scientifically known as Desmodema polystictum, is a circumtropical species that normally lives at depths of hundreds of metres, but is occasionally seen in shallow waters.
“The fish about 32 inches long with flashing red-coloured fins and faint polka dots was released alive back to the sea. It’s the first time that fishermen have reported catching this rare fish,” says a World Wide for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) press release.
The case was reported by Nisar Hussain, the boat captain, who was operating his fishing vessel in the Murray Ridge area off Churna Island, it says.
Hussain was trained in rescuing marine species by the organisation.
The species, according to the press release, was previously recorded from the Northern Arabian Sea on two occasions: once by French scientist M. L. Bauchot and Norwegian scientist Gabriella Bianchi in 1994 and then during an FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) survey in 2010.
Technical adviser on marine fisheries to the WWF-P Mohammad Moazzam Khan said the polka-dot ribbon fish was an inhabitant of epipelagic and mesopelagic zones of Pakistan and fed on lanternfish, squids and crustaceans.
“The occurrence of this rare fish indicates rich marine biodiversity that exists in the offshore and coastal areas of Pakistan,” he said.
According to the organisation, training to fishermen in rescuing endangered and non-targeted marine species has so far produced very positive results. Marine species so far safely released included 15 whale sharks, three manta rays, two sunfish, one Longman’s beaked whale and hundreds of olive Ridley and green turtles.
These species were earlier discarded by fishermen as they have no commercial value.