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The Rumengani: Lembeh sea dragon

Scientific name: Kyonemichthys rumengani
Common name: Lembeh sea dragon
Filmed in Alor, Indonesia

First discovered by eagle-eyed dive guides in Lembeh Straits in the mid-naughties, this tiny critter was named after Noldy Rumengan—the guide that pointed it out to the right photographer, who then followed through and had the beast scientifically described (by Gomon in 2007). Rumour has it that Noldy was then knifed in the back (but not killed) by jealous guides who had previously found the critter.

The fish was put in its own genus, Kyonemichthys, which means Swollen (Kyo) Thread (nema) Fish (ichthyic). I reckon that’s a much better common name than “Lembeh sea dragon”.

Arenui’s outstanding dive guides showed us these fish during our Alor dive expedition—more than 1000km from Lembeh, as the fish swims.

The “Rumengani swollen threadfish”—as I like to call it, for confusion’s sake—is found all over Indonesia, and will probably show up further afield… now that we know what we’re looking for. A closely related species has already been found in the Red Sea; I bet more will follow.

—Josh

Kyonemichthys rumengani

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