Don't let Wikipedia fool you!

Beware of the information published on the internet:

A few years ago (2010), this hoax was broadcasted on the web practically without control or verification.
The false discovery of a new species of abyssal fish was published on leader websites including Wikipedia, Fishbase and Fish Watcher for several weeks before being identified as a forgery and removed.
This virtual artistic intervention was a means of alerting the public to the danger of the information published on the web, especially when it comes to scientific and technical fields.

Here is the reports on Wikipedia and Fishbase:

A fake article on Wikipedia
A fake report on Fishbase

And here is the full fake scientific article used to deceive the websites administrators:


Natacha ERDYAU & Sergio-Gabriel NAHK

Summary: Presentation of a skate from Bathyraja genus captured around 2500 m depth east of New Zealand in 2007. A second one has been living photographed in 2009, confirming that it’s a not yet described abyssal species, and taxon Bathyraja transpicia Erdyau & Nahk, 2009 was proposed by authors.

Keywords: Rajidae, Bathyraja, new species, abyssal benthos, New Zealand

Methods: During the private exploration campaign using deep sea winch "Aotearoa deep sea", which took place on board of the fishing vessel "Moana Explorer" from 7 to 25 April 2007 in New Zealand, located on the slope off Wharanui (North-eastern South Island), at an average depth between 2,000 and 2,600 m, the different species of fish caught were identified and photographed each time. We have presented the most significant catch in an earlier publication (Erdyau & Nahk, 2007) which some have been preserved to integrate the collection of the Canterbury Museum. However, we have seen in the photo archive of the expedition one skate that we inappropriately identified as a juvenile specimen of Bathyraja abyssicola (Gilbert, 1896). Unfortunately we didn’t take it on collection, and it appears, after careful examination of photographs, that this individual differs from the species currently known.

This is an adult specimen of 16cm length, caught aboard the “Moana Explorer” on 12/04/2007, on station CH27 at 2467 m depth ; 42 ° 9 '47'' south / 176 ° 57 '12'' east (Fig. 2).

In a second research conducted in 2009 on the stations listed two years ago, we took some digital photographies at great depth. The private campaign, entitled "Deep Sea Aotearoa 2" took place aboard the vessel "Moana Explorer" from 12 to 18 November 2009 in New Zealand, on stations CH16 to CH9, at a depth between 2100 and 2450 m. Its primary objective was to collect information on species listed above, including photographs of fish in their environment. Several photos of a Bathyraja sp. have been made, showing a phenotype that confirms his relationship with the specimen caught in 2007.

This is an specimen of about 18 cm long, photographed from the "Moana Explorer" on 17/11/2009, station CH14 at 2231 m depth, 42 ° 30 '22'' south / 177 ° 37' 39''east (Fig. 3).

Identification: The absence of spines on the disc, the general shape of the rostrum and body push us to classify this species in the genus Bathyraja Ishiyama, 1958. There are four known species of this genus in New Zealand waters: B. asperula Garrick & Paul, 1974 ; B. richardsoni (Garrick, 1961) ; B. shuntovi Dolganov, 1985 ; B. spinifera (Garrick & Paul, 1974) ( Fig. 1 ).

It is now evident that the two specimens observed during surveys at sea are none of these species and does not constitute juvenile of them. Given the distribution of other members of the genus Bathyraja in the world and the morphological features observed, this is probably an undescribed species.

Fig. 1 : Compared drawings of the five species of  Bathyraja  from New Zealand - a :  B. asperula , b :  B. richardsoni , c :  B. shuntovi , d :  B.   spinier , e: B. transpicia.

Fig. 1 : Compared drawings of the five species of Bathyraja from New Zealand - a : B. asperula, b : B. richardsoni, c : B. shuntovi, d : B. spinier, e: B. transpicia.

Description: This skate has no spine on the dorsal surface, but 17 very small median spines on the tail. The disc is slightly asymmetrical, the anterior line of wings is sinuous and snout is protruding. The tail is very long, thin, approximately 53% of the total length and ends with two median pavilions. The dorsal surface has an iridescent appearance in water, slightly rough to the touch and the ventral surface is smooth and slippery. The entire body is translucent except for the cartilaginous skeleton and vital organs. The observation of these elements through the skin and muscles gives the impression of a diffuse pigmentation from red to purple. This transparency disappears quickly after the death of the animal.

Fig. 2 : Photographs of the dorsal (a) and ventral (b) faces of the holotype of  Bathyraja transpicia  caught in April 2007. Note the opacification of the body following the death of the animal.

Fig. 2 : Photographs of the dorsal (a) and ventral (b) faces of the holotype of Bathyraja transpicia caught in April 2007. Note the opacification of the body following the death of the animal.

The morphological characters of this species, that we propose to call Bathyraja transpicia because of its translucent body (from latin transpicio, "see through") distinguish it from the four species named above for New Zealand.

Ecology: Biological knowledge on this species are very limited, and its study requires further field data. According to our observations, Bathyraja transpicia lives between 2200 and 2500 m deep, in cold waters and low current. It seems to prefer the proximity of sand/muddy bottom in open water (we have never observed it on the substrate). Its swimming is very fast and jerky. Its diet is partly carnivorous, as the holotype was captured using a piece of fish.

Fig. 3 : Photo of  Bathyraja transpicia  in situ, made in 2009.

Fig. 3 : Photo of Bathyraja transpicia in situ, made in 2009.

References :

ERDYAU N. & NAHK S.-G., 2007. -Observations ichtyologiques effectuées en 2007 à bord du navire de pêche Moana Explorer, Bulletin of the New Zealand Marine Society, 3 (7) : 125-169.

GARRICK J. A. F. & PAUL L. J., 1974. The taxonomy of New Zealand skates with description of three new species, Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 4 (3) : 345-377.

LAST P. R., YEARSLEY G. K., 2002. Zoogeography and relationships of Australasian skates, Journal of Biogeography, 29 (12) : 1627–1641.

MCEACHRAN J. D., 1984. Anatomical investigations of the New Zealand skates Bathyraja asperula and B. spinifera, with an evaluation of their classification within the Rajoidei, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Copeia 1 : 45-58.

To cite this article :

ERDYAU N. & NAHK S.-G., 2009. –Observation of not described Bathyraja sp. In the East of New Zealand (South Pacific), Survey Bulletin of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, 5 (3) : 42-49.