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Celebrating SeaWeek on Cocos (Keeling) Islands – home of the hybrid fish

Posted on: September 7, 2015

Remote, wild and unique, Australia’s external territories of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are home to marine species found nowhere else in the world!

Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands lie directly in the middle of the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Bioregion. These bioregions overlap in an area known as a suture zone, a rare phenomenon in the marine world. Discovery of this suture zone actually came about from the identification of 15 hybrid coral reef fish species; the largest number ever found in the marine environment!

A hybrid species occurs when closely related species mate and produce offspring. In the marine world, when a fish can’t find a member of the same species to mate with, it will mate with a member of a different, but similar, species instead; producing a hybrid species. At the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Eibl’s angelfish and the lemonpeel angelfish mate to produce a hybrid (as seen in the images).

Find out more about the uniqueness of Australia’s external territories of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in our In Depth – Indian Ocean Territories.

Kim Boothman, Community Education Officer for the Indian Ocean Territories, will be celebrating SeaWeek on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands where she will run school activities with the students from the local school.

Eibl's angelfish

Eibl’s angelfish

Lemonpeel angelfish

Lemonpeel angelfish

Hybrid Eibl's and Lemonpeel

Hybrid Eibl’s and Lemonpeel

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