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article imageBlood-sucking parasite named Marley in homage to Reggae singer

By Anne Sewell     Jul 16, 2012 in Environment
Researchers from Arkansas State University have discovered a parasitic crustacean which infects fish in the coral reefs of the eastern Caribbean. They named it after Bob.
The discovery was made by Paul Sikkel, who is assistant professor of marine ecology at Arkansas State University and is a field marine biologist.
Together with his colleagues, he has been studying the ecological effects of commercial fishing and the degradation of coral reefs. They had previously observed the parasite throughout the region, but had assumed that it had already been characterized and classified.
On further investigation, they discovered that the parasite was, in fact, new to them.
He told the National Science Foundation, "I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley's music. Plus, this species is as uniquely Caribbean as was Marley."
Gnathia marleyi - Caribbean parasite named after Bob Marley.
Gnathia marleyi - Caribbean parasite named after Bob Marley.
John Artim, Department of Biology, Arkansas State University
The official name of the parasite will now be Gnathia marleyi.
Scientists are studying whether Gnathia marleyi and similar parasites have had any effect of the health of the inhabitants of the Caribbean's coral reefs. Apparently in its youth, this parasite hides within sea sponge, coral rubble or algae, waiting for the preferred fish to pass by, and then it infests it. Once they reach adult stage, they apparently live for a further two or three weeks in an attempt to reproduce.
According to the National Science Foundation, specimens of Gnathia marleyi will be housed indefinitely at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. "We are currently discussing with AMNH the possibility of creating an exhibit featuring this species that could be viewed by the public," said Sikkel.
Naming newly discovered species after famous people is not uncommon. There is apparently a new lichen named after U.S. President Barack Obama, a flower fly named for Bill Gates, singer Beyoncé is the namesake of a horsefly with a golden rear end, a wasp bears the name Elvis Presley and a beetle has been named after comedian Stephen Colbert.
More about Caribbean, Parasite, Blood sucking, Marley, bob marley