- I was over the moon. This really is great, says Oddgeir Alvheim.
The new fish species was discovered on the Mascarene banks between Mauritius and the Seychelles in 2008.
- I've been working with fish all my life, so to have a fish species named after you is quite something,” says Alvheim.
This is not the first time he has lent his name to a new species, however. Turbonilla alvheimi is a two millimetre long sea snail that Alvheim helped discover in the waters off West Africa a few years ago. But fish are much more fun.
Never seen before
- The Mascarene banks had not been thoroughly explored before, and the hard seabed there made trawling difficult. So there was a good chance of finding undescribed species. When we then came across this 10 cm long wrasse I said that I had never seen one of those before, Alvheim explains.
The process whereby the taxonomy experts approve new species is long and can take years. But now the species has been confirmed and published in a scientific journal.
- I am pleased to name this species in honor of Oddgeir B. Alvheim of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway, who recognized the two type specimens from the trawl hauls of the 'R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen' as a probable new species and took a color photograph of each, writes John E. Randall in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation article.
- Well deserved
- This is well deserved recognition for Oddgeir, who has sailed regularly on Dr Fridtjof Nansen since 1986 – for 26 years! He has vast knowledge of tropical fish species, and over the years he has established a large photo database of fish and other marine organisms from tropical and subtropical waters, says Åsmund Bjordal, head of the Centre for Development Cooperation in Fisheries (CDCF) at the Institute of Marine Research.
The centre co-ordinates the collaboration between the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, NIFES, the Norwegian Veterinary Institute and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority over aid projects that draw upon the expertise and experience generated by Norway's resource management in the areas of fisheries, aquaculture and oil/fish/environment.
Novaculops alvheimi, female, 83 mm.
Photo: Oddgeir Alvheim
The Nansen Programme
The Nansen Programme and the research vessel named after the same man are a key part of CDCF's contribution to fisheries research and management. Since 1974 the Nansen Programme has co-operated with more than 60 countries, predominantly in Africa but also in Asia and Latin America. The programme is financed by Norad, and the vessel's crew and key scientific staff are employed by the Institute of Marine Research.
The construction of a new Nansen vessel is currently being planned. On the initiative of Oddgeir Alvheim the new ship will house a photo lab.
Alvheim is currently on an expedition in the waters off Angola and northern Namibia performing volume calculations of species such as sardinella and Atlantic horse mackerel. These surveys have been conducted in recent years in order to identify variations in fish stocks.