Posted by Dabney B. on Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Let’s be honest with ourselves: one of the reasons why we get an aquarium is for bragging rights. We want people to see our aquariums and be impressed by their spectacular beauty. Some aquarists want the rarest, brightest, and most beautiful species that the ocean has to offer. But no matter how incredibly well-populated your aquarium may be, I’m betting that you don’t have anything as rare or exotic as Nahackyi’s angelfish.
When you’re talking about Nahackyi’s angelfish, the one thing that you really have to understand is the fish’s rarity. There has essentially never been a moment in history when the public has had easy access to the fish’s home. Nahackyi’s angelfish is indigenous only to Johnston Atoll, a tiny one-square-mile reef that’s about 860 miles off the cost of Hawaii.
Johnson’s Atoll was not discovered by mankind until 1796, beginning a brief 130-year period during which there were no restrictions placed on the area. The problem was that for most of this period, technology was still not sufficiently advanced enough to properly explore the atoll and its incredibly vibrant aquatic species.
In 1926, President Calvin Coolidge placed the region under control of the US Department of Agriculture, naming it as a federal bird refuge. Less than a decade later President Franklin D. Roosevelt handed the atoll over to the US Navy to establish a naval airbase suitable for seaplanes. The atoll experienced a short stint as a weapons testing facility, but now the area is part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Civilians need a permit issued by the US government just for the privilege to visit Johnston’s Atoll.
So, as you can see, visiting the atoll is not now — nor has it ever been — an easy place to access. And since Nahackyi’s angelfish resides in this isolated atoll, few humans on Earth have ever laid eyes on it. That is truly a shame, as it is one of the most beautiful species that I’ve ever seen. That’s not me exaggerating just because it’s rare; its vibrant yellows and purples contrast perfectly to create an absolutely gorgeous fish.
Because of its rarity, few of the fish have ever been removed from their natural habitat and very little is known about the species. Wikipedia doesn’t even have an entry on them! Though, you can find tiny scraps of information on them on websites about threatened species.
I am thrilled to report that a diver has recently uploaded a video of this extremely rare fish. Filmed during a January 2001 dive, this decade-old footage may very well be the world’s first video capture of Nahackyi’s angelfish ever made available to the public. So, without further ado, I invite you to say, “Hello” to one of Earth’s most precious species, Nahackyi’s angelfish.