September 28, 2009

New "walking fish" named for UW donor Maggie Walker

University of Washington alumnae, donor, and volunteer Margaret (Maggie) Walker will soon be honored with the naming of a newly discovered species of fish. The Burke Museum’s curator of fishes Ted Pietsch and his graduate student Rachel Arnold, are facilitating the naming process, which, it turns out, is no small feat! Why is that? According to Ted, “Once a new species of fish is discovered, a specialist has to describe and illustrate the specimen, prepare a manuscript and then submit the manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The plant or animal cannot be officially declared to be new until the description is accepted for publication and this process might take six months to a year.” In other words, it’s a lot of work! So the Burke is happy to announce that this process has begun for the soon-to-be named “Maggie Walker fish.”

This new species actually suits the name it will soon receive, as this fish is known to “walk” along the bottom of the ocean, rather than swim. The newly discovered fish species is part of the family Antennariidae, commonly known as frogfishes. This family is unique in that they carry their clutch of eggs wrapped in their tail, until just before they hatch, when they drop them on the seafloor and 'miniature adults' hatch out.

The "Maggie Walker fish"

The “Maggie Walker fish” was recently discovered by UW Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences graduate student Rachel Arnold, who has collected both morphological and molecular (DNA) evidence to support her claim that this species is indeed new to science.

Why go to all this trouble to honor Maggie Walker? Maggie has been an active and passionate donor and volunteer for the UW for over 20 years and she visits campus several times a week to attend to her many volunteer commitments. Her interests and volunteer service extends beyond the University to other important causes and organizations. She and her family have traveled extensively throughout the world. They share a love of animals, art, nature, natural history, and being in the outdoors, which Maggie has expressed through her service to art, zoological, and environmental organizations throughout the Seattle-area.

Maggie Walker’s commitment to the University of Washington has benefited innumerable students, faculty, and community members. And now, her name will grace a newly discovered species of fish! Thanks Maggie!

Posted by: Nicole Robert, Communications