Anna DeLoach reports that researcher Dr. Petter Wirtz is offering individuals the chance to have a new blenny species named after them. He has discovered a new species in the Azores, and in order to fund his return to the islands to obtain another specimen, is auctioning off the opportunity to name the fish.
From Anna DeLoach:
Dr. Peter Wirtz is in the process of describing a new species of blenny in the genus Malacoctenus. In order to complete the work, he must return to the Cape Verde Islands to obtain another specimen, then he must complete the description and publish the description. He is hoping to raise the funding necessary to complete this work by auctioning off the right to name the fish.
Funding for science, especially taxonomy, has been increasingly difficult to obtain and auctioning off species names has a number of precedents. For example, in 2007, to raise funding for its Coral Triangle Initiative, Conservation International held a grand event in Monaco to auction naming rights to a number of fishes discovered in Indonesia (see Washington Post article, “New Species Owe Names to Highest Bidder”). German non-profit Biopat offers an online catalog of species awaiting patrons willing to donate funding in return for naming rights (those proceeds are directed to the educational institutions of the discoverers and to field work).
How to name your fish? Dr. Wirtz explains: “You could name the blenny after yourself or after a loved one. When a species is named after a person, the name is given a Latin ending. The ending depends on the gender of the person being honored. For males the ending is formed by adding the letter “I” and for females by adding the letters “ae”. So if the winning bidder is called John Smith and wants the species named after him, it could be called Malacoctenus johnsmithi.”
The minimum bid is 5000 US$. Anyone interested in naming the species can contact Dr. Peter Wirtz directly by email. Dr Wirtz is one of the world’s experts on blennies and has been a helpful resource for our marine life questions. For more information about his books, publications and to view his collection of images, visit his web page. The auction ends on December 31, 2013.