NANFA-- Ratfish named for Ray Troll

Jay DeLong (
Tue, 21 Jan 2003 08:19:19 -0800

Ketchikan Daily News
By Leila Kheiry
KETCHIKAN -- Ketchikan artist and fish enthusiast Ray Troll has achieved
immortality in the world of ichthyology.
A ratfish species found off New Zealand and New Caledonia in the Southern
Pacific Ocean has been named in Troll's honor. Ratfish researcher Dominique
Didier Dagit, assistant curator of ichthyology at the Academy of Natural
Sciences in Philadelphia, identified the Hydrolagus trolli as a unique
species about a year ago. She said in a telephone interview Wednesday that
she and Troll share a love for ratfish, so she decided to name her
discovery for him.
"It's kind of nice to be able to name a species for someone," she said. "I
thought, 'Here's my chance to name a fish for someone who's really interested.'
"It kind of looks like him (but with) less facial hair." In a recently
published paper about the new species, Dagit described Troll as an "artist
of fishes and one of the few true chimaeroid lovers of the world. "This
fish is named in his honor for his valiant efforts to increase ratfish
awareness worldwide," Dagit wrote.
The ratfish is a distant relative of the shark and varieties exist
throughout the Pacific Ocean, Dagit said. The Chimaera ratfish can be found
in Southeast Alaska waters, sometimes to the annoyance of fishermen. The
local ratfish has a spotted body and a long, ratlike tail.
Troll said his love for ratfish started about 18 years ago when he caught
one while fishing and thought, "What the heck is that?" He started
researching the creature, learning that the fish dates back 350 million years.
"They're just so cool and weird-looking," Troll said as he described the
protruding tenaculum on the male ratfish's forehead. He referred to the
protrusion as the "girl grabber" because the male fish uses it to hold onto
the female during mating.
Troll said he and Dagit met through their mutual appreciation for
ratfish."It's not a big world of ratfish enthusiasts out there," he said.
Dagit said she has studied ratfish for years. That experience helped her
identify Hydrolagus trolli as a new species. She said its unique
characteristics include a lavender color and a longer than average nose.
The trolli has other different features on its head, and its sex organs are
different. The number of spines and its skeletal structure set it apart
from other ratfish. The new species is found at depths of about 3,000 feet
off the coasts of New Zealand and New Caledonia, Dagit said. A paper about
the discovery that she co-wrote with Paris scientist Bernard Seret recently
was published in the French scientific journal Cybium, which makes the name
Once a species is named, Dagit said, the name stays with the fish forever.
"Like immortality," she said. "And you don't have to put it through college."

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA
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