Newly Discovered Rainbow Fish Is Born Female And Turns Male As It Ages

There’s still so much to learn about our oceans and what’s hiding beneath them. Every year, scientists are learning more and more about the depths of the seas and all the creatures that call the water home.

In early 2022, researchers discovered a new species of fish hiding beneath the surface: an elusive rainbow-colored fish living near the Maldives.

Photo: Pixabay/David Mark

The rose-veiled fairy wrasse, scientifically known as the Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa, was actually discovered much earlier in the 1990s, but it wasn’t officially documented until this year.

According to KCRA 3, the rose-veiled fairy wrasse is one of just seven new fish discovered in 2022. It lives in the “twilight zone” of the Indian ocean, some 130-230 feet below the surface.

Photo: YouTube/9NEWS

The species boasts brightly colored scales in yellows, roses, and violets that change and deepened as it matures.

According to The Guardian, perhaps the most interesting thing about these fish is their ability to change genders as they age. While they’re born as females, the fish change to males as they age, and their colors deepen and shift to accompany the transition.

While it may sound unusual, the specie’s ability to switch from female to male isn’t unique. In fact, BBC Earth describes fish, in general, as the “sex-switching masters of the animal kingdom.”

Photo: YouTube/9NEWS

BBC Earth goes on to explain that the majority of “sequential hermaphrodites” are known to switch from female to male, making them “protogynous” (which is Greek for “female first”). Some examples of sequential hermaphrodites include the kobudai, certain species of parrotfish, a “wide variety” of reef fish, the rose-veiled fairy wrasse, and other wrasses.

9News shared photos of the rainbow species on YouTube so you can see the beautiful colors for yourself:

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