Known from only a single, deep reef off Indonesia, this "beautiful" fairy basslet is 1 of 25 new coral reef fish species making their debuts this month in a three-volume book set, Reef Fishes of the East Indies.
Among the new fish, the basslet, Pseudanthias mica, is a favorite of co-author Mark V. Erdmann, who named it after his daughter Mica, an avid diver at age 12.
"Fairy basslets, though closely related to groupers, are small plankton feeders that usually occur in groups of tens to occasionally hundreds, and the males [are] especially very brightly pastel-colored," said Erdmann, a Conservation International marine biologist, via email.
Compiling more than 60 years of data, the new guide details 2,500 species of reef fish, doubling the number previously reported in the area.
By highlighting the diversity of fish in the Coral Triangle, the South China Sea, and the Andaman Sea, Erdmann hopes to convince decision makers to prioritize the areas for conservation.
"When speaking with community members here, we frequently explain [that the region's oceans act] as a 'species factory'—and note how important it is to keep the factory running well!"
(See "Best Underwater Pictures: Winners of 2012 Amateur Contest.")