(CNN)Although the nation of Wakanda exists only in the Marvel Comics universe, where it is superhero Black Panther's home, researchers believe they have found a version of it underwater. And here, 260 feet below the surface in secretive reefs, the warriors accented with vibrant purple are fish.
A fish called Wakanda: New purple fish honors 'Black Panther'
Previously unknown, the fish species lives in dark coral reefs, called "Twilight Zone" reefs, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania. The fish are known as fairy wrasses.
The findings are detailed in a study published Thursday in the journal ZooKeys.
Their scales are so deeply pigmented that the deep purple remains even during the preservation process, when color is usually lost.
The fish were discovered by scientists participating in the California Academy of Sciences' Hope for Reefs initiative, which aims to research and restore coral reef systems. The species went unknown for so long because their home is below recreational diving limits. Hope for Reefs divers are trained to research in the "Twilight Zone" reefs, which can be 200 to 500 feet beneath the surface.
"Preparation for these deep dives is very intense, and our dive gear often weighs more than us," said Luiz Rocha, the academy's curator of fishes and co-leader of Hope for Reefs. "When we reach these reefs and find unknown species as spectacular as this fairy wrasse, it feels like our hard work is paying off."
The divers can explore the reefs for only minutes before a long ascent back to the surface that can take hours to do safely.
The fish were named Cirrhilabrus wakanda, or the vibranium fairy wrasse, in honor of Wakanda and "Black Panther."