First confirmed presence of the Red Sea goatfish Parupeneus forsskali (Fourmanoir & Guézé, 1976) from Cyprus
© Chartosia and Michailidis 2016
Received: 24 May 2016
Accepted: 3 June 2016
Published: 4 July 2016
Cyprus is affected by the invasion of non-indigenous ‘lessepsian’ species due to its proximity to the Suez Canal. Thus, recent ongoing studies in the marine area of Cyprus reveal new records of such Erythrean species.
The first confirmed presence of the Red Sea goatfish Parupeneus forsskali in the coastal waters of Cyprus is reported. Description of the specimen, together with some distributional notes of the species in the Mediterranean are provided.
This record of P. forsskali from Cyprus, together with the previous occurrences in Israel, Lebanon and Turkey supports further the establishment of a population in the eastern Mediterranean.
KeywordsParupeneus forsskali Mullidae Lessepsian migrants Eastern Mediterranean Cyprus
Until recently, only four species of goatfish have been identified in Cyprus: the indigenous Mullus barbatus barbatus Linnaeus, 1758 and M. surmuletus Linnaeus, 1758 and the lessepsians Upeneus moluccensis (Bleeker, 1855), recorded for the first time in 1961 by Demetropoulos and Neocleous (1969) and U. pori Ben-Tuvia and Golani, 1989, recorded for the first time in 2004 by Tzomos et al. (2007). Iglésias and Frotté (2015) reported the presence of Parupeneus forsskali (Fourmanoir & Guézé, 1976) in Cyprus, but the record was based on an assertion of a fishmonger who photographed a single individual with a smartphone, and the photograph was not recovered. Therefore, the identification of the species was based only on retained diagnostic characters.
Here we report the first confirmed presence of the mullid P. forsskali in Cyprus, expanding further its known distribution in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It is noteworthy to report that according to the fisherman who provided our specimen, another individual of the same species of a bigger size, was caught by him a month later (September 2014), at the same depth, area, bottom type and on the same gear. Unfortunately, the specimen was sold along with surmullets.
Morphometric measurements of the specimen of Parupeneus forsskali from Cape Pyla, Cyprus
Total length (TL)
Standard length (SL)
Max. Body depth
Caudal peduncle depth
Head length (HL)
The record of P. forsskali from Cyprus supports further the establishment of a population in the eastern Mediterranean and expands its known distribution in the basin. The depth at which this specimen was collected (24 m) falls in the general depth distribution of the species (1–30 m) in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (Randall and Heemstra 2009). Furthermore, the presence of P. forsskali in Cyprus supports the view of Bariche et al. (2013a) that this species is probably overlooked in the Levantine Basin, due to its sporadic occurrences in Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and now similarly from Cyprus. In the Mediterranean, P. forsskali was first observed in Mersin, Turkey in 2000, while in 2004 an individual was photographed in the same area at a depth of 15 m (Çinar et al. 2006). Confirmed records of the species were only provided very recently by Bariche et al. (2013a) from Lebanon at a depth of 40 m and Sonin et al. (2013) from Israel at a depth of 45 m, thus expanding the depth distribution of the species in the Mediterranean.
Concerning Cyprus, there are only a few studies which record the presence of lessepsian migrants in the island. Among the most recent, Katsanevakis et al. (2009) documented 25 lessepsian fish species, excluding the questionable record of the chondrichthyan Himantura uarnak. Ioannou et al. (2010); Michailidis (2010); Bariche et al. (2013b) recorded Scarus ghobban Forsskål, 1775, Torquigener flavimaculosus Hardy & Randall, 1983 and Pterois miles (Bennett, 1828), respectively. A recent study concerning alien marine fish in Cyprus, conducted by Iglésias and Frotté (2015), reported 7 new lessepsian fish species. Finally, Crocetta et al. (2015) recorded Cheilodipterus novemstriatus (Rüppell, 1838), raising the number of lessepsian fish species in Cyprus to 36. Considering that the total number of lessepsian fish species recorded in the Mediterranean has been reported at 97 species (Fricke et al. 2015), the recorded number for Cyprus is low compared with neighbouring countries (e.g., Por 1978; Tzomos et al. 2007; Katsanevakis et al. 2009; Nunes et al. 2014). We believe that this is due to the lack of targeted sampling effort as well as Cyprus’ position and hydrographic conditions prevailing in the area, mainly the predominant water circulation (Gerin et al. 2009; Bergamasco and Malanotte-Rizzoli 2010).
As is the case for most goatfishes, P. forsskali is a species economically exploited in its native region (Sabrah 2015; Bariche et al. 2013a). It remains to be seen whether this species will manage to reach high abundances and become a commercial species in the area as in the case of the other two lessepsian mullids, U. moluccensis and U. pori which constitute a notable addition to the local fish market.
The record of P. forsskali from Cyprus supports further the establishment of a population in the eastern Mediterranean and expands its known distribution in the basin. Furthermore, the confirmed presence of P. forsskali in Cyprus supports the view that this species is probably overlooked in the Levantine Basin, due to its sporadic occurrences in Israel, Lebanon, Turkey and now from Cyprus.
The authors are grateful to the professional fisherman Mr. Floros Kallitsionis for providing the specimen and the related information given in the manuscript. Moreover, we thank the two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments that helped us improve our manuscript.
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Availability of data and material
The material described in the manuscript is freely available to any scientist wishing to use it, without breaching participant confidentiality. The sample is deposited in the Department of Biological Sciences (University of Cyprus) collections, in 90 % ethanol solution.
The fisherman took the sample to NM who has identified it to species level. Both authors contributed to draft the manuscript and they read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
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