The Gubernatorial Goby, Trimma atururii!


Leave it to the Bird’s Head to produce a gubernatorial goby! In a recent paper published with my colleagues Dr. Rick Winterbottom (Royal Ontario Museum) and Dita Cahyani (Udayana University in Bali), we described three new Trimma dwarfgobies from West Papua, including Trimma atururii, named after the Governor of West Papua, Abraham Atuturi.

Originally discovered during a survey of the deep reefs of Ayau Atoll system in northeast Raja Ampat in March 2011, this beautiful little dwarfgoby was immediately recognized as being a new species due to its attractive and unique red and white bipartite colour pattern and blue stripes through the eyes. As a West Papuan endemic fish that also displays the proud “merah-putih” colours of the Indonesian flag, it seems particularly appropriate to name this species after Governor Abraham Octovianus Atururi, also a former Brigadier General in the Indonesian Navy. Governor Aturiri has been a strong proponent of marine conservation throughout his tenure, and launched the Bird’s Head Seascape initiative over a decade ago. He has shown tremendous foresight in recognizing the critical importance of carefully protecting and managing the marine and terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity of West Papua as the basis for the prosperity of the Papuan people – including by designating West Papua as Indonesia’s first Conservation Province. We proudly salute Governor Aturiri with the naming of this new species!

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Trimma atururii is known only from the open oceanic atoll systems of Ayau and Mapia in the northern Bird’s Head Seascape of West Papua. It occurs on steep outer reef drop-offs, usually perched on vertical surfaces at the back of crevices and overhangs in depths of 38-70m. Based on genetic analysis, its closest known relative is Trimma hotsarihiensis from Palau and northeastern Indonesia, including Cenderawasih Bay.

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The two other new species described in the paper include Trimma kardium (so named for the heart-shaped red mark on its breast – the only distinguishing feature on the otherwise all-yellow fish) and Trimma trioculatum (named for its “third eye” on the dorsal fin). T. kardium is known only from the Bird’s Head (Raja Ampat, Cenderawasih and Triton Bays), while T. trioculatum is only known from Cenderawasih Bay.

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The descriptions of these new species bring the total reef fish species count for the Bird’s Head Seascape to a whopping 1757 species! Keep watching for more updates on the steady stream of new species still being discovered in the Bird’s Head!


Mark Erdmann

Mark Erdmann

Dr. Mark Erdmann's work largely focuses on the management of marine protected areas, as well as research on reef fish and mantis shrimp biodiversity, satellite tracking of endangered sharks and rays, and genetic connectivity in MPA networks. Mark is the Vice President of CI’s Asia-Pacific marine programs, tasked with providing strategic guidance and technical and fundraising support to focal marine programs in CI's Asia Pacific Field Division, including especially the Bird's Head Seascape and Pacific Oceanscape initiatives, as well as marine programs in China, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Samoa and the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI). Mark is a coral reef ecologist (Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley) who has recently moved to New Zealand, and previously lived and worked in Indonesia for 23 years. During his time there he launched and directed the Bird’s Head Seascape initiative for over a decade, developing it into one of CI's flagship marine programs globally. Mark is an avid diver and has logged over 10,000 scuba dives while surveying marine biodiversity throughout the region, discovering and describing over 150 new species of reef fish and mantis shrimp in the process. He has published over 140 scientific articles and four books, including most recently the three-volume set "Reef Fishes of the East Indies" with colleague Dr. Gerald Allen, and has been a scientific advisor to numerous natural history documentary films for the BBC, National Geographic and NHK. Erdmann was awarded a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation in 2004 for his work in marine conservation education and training for Indonesian schoolchildren, members of the press, and the law enforcement community. Though his work is now largely focused on the management of marine protected areas, his continuing research interests include reef fish and mantis shrimp biodiversity, satellite and acoustic telemetry of endangered elasmobranch species, and genetic connectivity in MPA networks. In recent years Mark has devoted significant time to supporting the Indonesian government in its efforts to improve conservation and management of its sharks and rays, including the designation of the world’s largest manta ray sanctuary in 2014. Mark maintains a research associate position with the California Academy of Sciences, supervises several Master's and PhD students at the University of Auckland, and is active on the boards of a number of NGOs working in the Coral Triangle, including Yayasan Kalabia, Reef Check Indonesia, and Manta Trust. Mark and his wife Arnaz and three children (Mica, Brahm and Cruz) live in Auckland, where he maintains a deep personal commitment to do whatever is necessary to ensure his children will be able to enjoy the same high-quality underwater experiences that continue to provide the inspiration for his dedication to the marine environment.

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