In July 2014, Pierre and William Larue went boating at Tombo Reef, just outside Noumea, when they happened upon a small silver fish, about 5cm long, with googly eyes that spread across much of its body.
It looked out of place, so the pair took pictures and collected the fish, and it eventually arrived at the Pacific Community's marine lab in Noumea, where it was studied by Elodie Vourey.
A senior fisheries scientist at the lab, Valerie Allain, says after detailed study, scientists have this month concluded the fish is a new species: Polyipnus Laruei.
Dr Allain says the discovery was pure chance.
"The fish is about 5cm long so it's very small, and the chance of finding it and finding it in the perfect condition - because after a few hours at the surface it would probably have been eaten by a bird or any other fish. So yeah, there was a lot of chance happening there."
Valerie Allain says despite two search expeditions, researchers are yet to find another specimen of Polyipnus Laruei.
Photo: Supplied / William Larue The new species of fish, Polyipnus Laruei, which was discovered off New Caledonia.