Blenny Auction!

Malacoctenus n sp Peter Wirtz
A lovely blenny awaiting a name (Malacoctenus n sp. by Dr. Peter Wirtz)

Place the winning bid and the right to name this lovely blenny is yours. We are talking about the one-of-a-kind Latinized scientific name; the one by which this fish shall officially be known. Discovered in the Cape Verde Islands and identified as an undescribed species by Dr. Peter Wirtz, the blenny belongs to the genus Malacoctenus, of which only one species was known to live in the Eastern Atlantic. Dr. Wirtz is preparing the formal scientific description but must obtain another specimen to complete the documentation. He is hoping to raise the funding necessary to complete his work by auctioning off the right to name the fish. The auction proceeds will fund the additional travel to the Cape Verde Islands, the field work to obtain another specimen, preparation of the description and its publication.

Funding for science, especially taxonomy, has been increasingly difficult to obtain and auctioning off species names has a number of precedents. For example, in 2007, to raise funding for its Coral Triangle Initiative, Conservation International held a grand event in Monaco to auction naming rights to a number of fishes discovered in Indonesia (see Washington Post article, “New Species Owe Names to Highest Bidder”). German non-profit Biopat offers an online catalog of species awaiting patrons willing to donate funding in return for naming rights (those proceeds are directed to the educational institutions of the discoverers and to field work).

How to name your fish? Dr. Wirtz explains: “You could name the blenny after yourself or after a loved one. When a species is named after a person, the name is given a Latin ending. The ending depends on the gender of the person being honored. For males, the ending is formed by adding the letter “I” and for females by adding the letters “ae.” So if the winning bidder is called John Smith and wants the species named after him, it could be called Malacoctenus johnsmithi.”

The minimum bid is 5,000 US$. If interested in bidding to name the species, contact Dr. Peter Wirtz directly by email via Dr Wirtz is one of the world’s experts on blennies and has been a helpful resource for our marine life questions. For more information about his books, publications and to view his collection of images, visit his web page at The auction ends on December 31, 2013. This could make a wonderful gift for a loved one and at the same time help further science.