Los Angeles: A blood-sucking parasite which infests fish living on coral reefs in the Caribbean has been named after reggae singer Bob Marley in a tribute to the late Jamaican music icon.
Naming new species after celebrities is not new: a lichen has been named after US President Barack Obama while a wasp has been named after American singer Elvis Presley.
The naming is not meant to be a sign of disrespect, said marine biologist Paul Sikkel of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, who coined the name Gnathia marleyi to honour Marley.
“I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley’s music,” Sikkel was quoted as saying by Los Angeles Times. “Plus, this species is as uniquely Caribbean, as was Marley.”
Marley’s best-known hits include I Shot the Sheriff, No Woman, No Cry and Could You Be Loved. He died in 1981 at the age of 36.
The new species belongs to a family of parasites called gnathiids, which are ocean-based analogs of blood-sucking ticks and disease-carrying mosquitoes.
They live throughout the ocean and are the most important food source for cleaner fish, which eat them off the skin of other fish. Juvenile gnathiids hide within coral rubble or algae so they can launch surprise attacks on fish and infest them. Once the parasites turn adult, they stop feeding and live for two to three weeks attempting to reproduce.