Catfish named for Philadelphian

June 10, 2008 5:26:00 AM PDT
There is something fishy about Philadelphian Frank Gallagher.

The former mailroom supervisor at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia has a species of catfish named after him.

Academy fish scientist Dr. Mark Sabaj Pérez named Rhinodoras gallagheri, a new species of catfish, for Gallagher, a mailroom supervisor for 37 years before retiring in 2003.

"I wanted to honor Frank for his many years of dedicated service to the global community of taxonomists and systematists in handling the shipping and receiving of countless loans of biological specimens," said Sabaj Pérez, who manages the Academy's collection of 1.3 million fish. "I was impressed by Frank's dedication, his love for fellow employees, and his keen interest in the science we do. I simply thought, here is a guy who should be honored with his own catfish."

Rhinodoras gallagheri, commonly known the Orinoco thicklip catfish, occurs in the Orinoco basin in Venezuela and Colombia. It is a secretive fish that hides during the day in hollow logs or the deep, dark channels of large rivers. At night it sometimes can be found in swift-flowing rapids, foraging the bottom for aquatic insects.

Since retiring from the Academy, Gallagher has enjoyed tending to his garden in Southwest Philadelphia, his 40-gallon fish tank, some turtles and a dog. Of the honor of being enshrined with a thicklip catfish, Gallagher simply said, "I thought it was nice of him."