New species of blind freshwater eel discovered in Mumbai

2 October 2021.


New species of blind freshwater eel has been by four scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).


  • Eel species was discovered from a well in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • As per scientists, eel is a blind freshwater hypogean.
  • This is the first such discovered species from Maharashtra and Northern Western Ghats.

About Blind Eel

  • Species has been named as ‘Rakthamichtys mumba’ to pay tribute to the city it was found in.
  • Newly discovered freshwater bright-pink coloured species is completely blind and a subterranean freshwater fish.
  • The blind eel has a genetic distance of 21.6 – 22.8% as compared to other known species of Rakthamicthys genus.
  • This is the 5th species from Rakthamicthys genus to have originated from India.

How this species was discovered?

  • The species was discovered by four scientists namely, Anil Mohapatra, Tejas Thackeray, Praveenraj Jayasimhan and Annam Pavan Kumar.
  • This discovery is the most remarkable one till date. Scientists had collected the hypogean species a few years ago.
  • They continued working on it, even in the ongoing covid-19 pandemic situation.

Significance of the discovery

  • According to scientists, an extensive study regarding the species and habitat systems of the Hypogean and cavernicolus would help in formulating conservation strategies for the species.
  • Factors such as distribution pattern, level of endemism, biographic barriers causing speciation can also be studied now.

Rakthamichthys Mumba

  • One of the scientists, Anil Mohapatra, is also among the co-authors of ‘Rakthamichthys mumba’ that was published in Aqua International Journal of Ichthyology. 
  • The word ‘mumba’ has been derived from the Marathi language to honours a deity worshipped in Mumbai called “Mumba Aai”.

About Rakthamichthys

  • It is a genus of swamp eels and are endemic to India.
  • Three species are known from Western Ghats while one is known from Northeast India.
  • These species live underground. One species is having a fossorial lifestyle while three species are troglobitic in nature.

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