Tejas Thackeray and team discover a new blind hypogean freshwater eel

Sharing the information on Instagram, Tejas said that species was collected a few years back and the team was working on the project throughout the pandemic.

Tejas Thackeray and team discover a new blind hypogean freshwater eel
Reference: Instragram - @tuthackeray

Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray's son, Tejas Thackeray, a wildlife enthusiast, and this team from Thackeray Wildlife Foundation, discovered a new type of Swamp Eel from Mumbai's Jogeshwari area. 

Named after goddess Mumba Devi as Rakthamichthys Mumba, the Mumbai blind eel, this unique creature was found with unique features like no eyes, fins and scales, in a 40-feet deep well in suburbs of Jogeshwari.  The creature is said to have unique gill aperture and crescentic-shaped cephalic. 

Sharing the information on Instagram, Tejas said, "Pleased to introduce you to a species we collected a few years ago and worked on throughout the pandemic. A journey full of ups and downs, and today it finally gets to see the light of day. Presenting a new blind hypogean freshwater eel from my city – Rakthamichtys mumba – the Mumbai blind eel! Published is 'Aqua international journal of ichthyology' today, This is the first completely blind subterranean freshwater fish species to be described from Maharashtra & the Northern western Ghats. The species name 'mumba' refers to the type locality, the city of Mumbai. The word 'mumba' derives its roots from the Marathi language, which honours Mumba Aai, a deity worshipped by the inhabitants of this city. It is used as a noun in apposition."

Tejas has been known for his love towards nature and has often been noted promoting wildlife and environment-related concerns. Sharing more information regarding the same he said that one must not forget that the planet we live in, is shared with amazing creatures, both big and small. 

Talking more about the discovery, Tejas mentioned, "With a genetic distance of 21.6 – 22.8% from other known species of Rakthamicthys, it is the 5th species from the genus to be described from India. Hypogean & cavernicolus species and their habitat systems are so poorly studied and the data available to formulate conservation strategies is not sufficient. The level of endemism, distribution pattern, biographic barriers causing speciation are factors which we know virtually nothing about."

This discovery has been published in Aqua International Journal of Ichthyology. Besides Tejas, the team included Praveenraj Jayasimhan, Anil Mohapatra, and Annam Pavam Kumar.

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