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Monday, December 4, 2023
Dec. 4, 2023

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Researchers explain why sea creature named for Buffett


You might think Jimmy Buffett has already been immortalized through his five decades of popular music and the business empire he has built since emerging from the Key West scene of the early-1970s.

But a team of scientists, including a group from the University of Miami, has found another way to implant his name in Florida, where the Mississippi-born Buffett calls home.

The team just named a newly discovered species they found in the watery depths of the Keys after the 76-year-old singer-songwriter.

Meet Gnathia jimmybuffetti.

That’s the new crustacean discovered and named by the international team of scientists from UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science, and the Water Research Group from the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at the North-West University in South Africa.

Buffett shared the news on a post to X, the former Twitter.

“Has a nice ring to it,” he wrote.

Buffett didn’t immediately respond to the Miami Herald for further comment.

The research team also named a similar species from the Caribbean after Bob Marley, Gnathia marleyi.

What is the Buffett species?

Cryptofauna are the “tiny, hidden, organisms that make up the majority of biodiversity in the ocean,” according to the scientists.

The roughly three-millimeter-long isopod is one of only 15 species from the genus Gnathia currently known in the region, the team wrote in the study.

“Upon examination, it was determined to be a species that was previously unknown to science,” senior investigator Paul Sikkel, a research professor in the Department of Marine Biology and Ecology at the Rosenstiel School, said in a statement. “It’s the first new Florida gnathiid to be discovered in 100 years.”

The severe triple-digit marine heat that has stewed coral reefs in the Keys is a threat to species like Gnathia jimmybuffetti because these sea creatures cannot simply swim to cooler water, the scientists said.

Why name species after Buffett?

Turns out Sikkel and his team are long-time fans of Buffett’s music — synonymous with the Florida Keys.

After all, Buffett’s third album, the one that really introduced listeners to his music and was the first of his Keys-themed albums, is called “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean.”

The album, released in June 1973, plays off the title of Marty Robbins’ country tune, “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation” and features staples of Buffett’s concerts: “Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” “Grapefruit—Juicy Fruit,” “Cuban Crime of Passion,” written with author buddy Tom Corcoran, and a song Buffett has cited as one of his favorite compositions, “He Went to Paris.”

In April, Buffett’s 1977 signature song, “Margaritaville,” was enshrined in the 2023 National Recordings Registry of the Library of Congress.

“By naming a species after an artist,” Sikkel said through the University of Miami, “we want to promote the integration of the arts and sciences.”

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