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Article Title: First record of the Emperor angelfish, Pomacanthus imperator (Acthenoptergii: Pomacanthidae) in the Syrian coast (Eastern Mediterranean)

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Abstract

Abstract This paper reports the first record of the Emperor angelfish Pomacanthus imperator (Bloch, 1787) from the Syrian coast. The specimen was caught by trap at depth of 15 m on 18 February 2018. The fish measured 272 mm in total length, and weighted 1349 g The record represents the second sighting of this species in the Levantine basin, but since it is based on a single isolated individual there is no evidence that the species has established a population in Syrian waters. Therefore at present P. imperator must be regarded as a casual species.
M A R I N E R E C O R D Open Access
First record of the Emperor angelfish,
Pomacanthus imperator (Acthenoptergii:
Pomacanthidae) in the Syrian coast
(Eastern Mediterranean)
Adib Saad
1*
, Hasan Alkusairy
1
and Waad Sabour
2
Abstract
This paper reports the first record of the Emperor angelfish Pomacanthus imperator (Bloch, 1787) from the Syrian
coast. The specimen was caught by trap at depth of 15 m on 18 February 2018. The fish measured 272 mm in total
length, and weighted 1349 g The record represents the second sighting of this species in the Levantine basin, but
since it is based on a single isolated individual there is no evidence that the species has established a population in
Syrian waters. Therefore at present P. imperator must be regarded as a casual species.
Keywords: Pomacanthus imperator, First record, Non-indigenous, Biological invasions, Syria
Background
The Family: Pomacanthidae constitutes of marine trop-
ical and subtropical Atlantic and Indo-Pacific fish spe-
cies commonly known as angelfishes. This family is
composed of about 82 different species characterized by
a strong spine at the angle of the preopercle and striking
colour patterns (Nelson 2006).
To date, the Mediterranean Sea has been subjected to nu-
merous non-indigenous species, introductions raising the
attention of scientists, managers, and media. Several intro-
duction pathways contribute to these introduction, includ-
ing Lessepsian invasion. The opening of the Suez Canal in
1869 connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea
enabled many tropical organisms originating in the Red Sea
to invade and colonize the Mediterranean. The influx of
Red Sea biota into the Mediterranean, termed Lessepsian
invasion, encompasses many taxa (Por 1978;Gerovasileiou
et al. 2016). Concerning fish, Saad (2005)presentedalistof
Lessepsian fish species in Syrian marine waters. at
that time no species belonging to the family poma-
cantidae was recorded or documented. Golani (2010)
recorded Pomacanthus imperator for the first time in
the Mediterranean Sea in Haifa coast.
Materials and methods
On 18 February 2018, a 218 mm standard length (272 mm
total length) weight 1349 g specimen of Pomacanthus
imperator (Bloch, 1787) was caught by trap on a marine
area with sandy bottom (of 15 m deep). This area was
located very close to the commercial port of at Lattakia City
(35°.61N, 36°.002E) (Fig. 1).
The specimen was measured accurately to the nearest
millimeter and weighed to the nearest gram. Morphometric
measurements, including percentages of standard length
(SL), and meristic counts were all measured and noted
following Golani (2010). The specimen was preserved in
10% buffered formalin and deposited in the Ichthyological
Collection of the Marine Sciences Laboratory, Agriculture
Faculty at Tishreen University, Syria, under the catalogue
number: 257-2018 MSL (Fig. 2).
Results and discussion
Description of specimen: the body is oval-shaped, deep
(133 mm; 61.0% of SL) and compressed. The head is rela-
tively small (56 mm; 25.7% of SL) and slightly concave
into the dorsal profile. The predorsal (80 mm; 36.7%), pre-
anal (154 mm; 70.6%) and preventral (83 mm; 38.1%) of
* Correspondence: adibsaad52@gmail.com
1
Marine Science Laboratory, Faculty of Agriculture, Tishreen University, P.O
Box 1408, Lattakia, Syria
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
© The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This 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.
Saad et al. Marine Biodiversity Records (2018) 11:16
https://doi.org/10.1186/s41200-018-0152-3
standard length (SL. Small protractile and slanted mouth,
its gape is close to half the distance of the vertical line of
eye. Eyes are small (7 mm; 20.6% of head length) and has
a wide interorbital (12 mm; 35.3% of head length). Inside
themouth,aowsoftightly-packedunicuspiddepressible
teeth are found forming a brush-like surface. The anterior
teeth in both jaws are the longest, progressively decreasing
in length when closing to the mouth opening and there
are no teeth on the vomer or palatine. The gills are
Short-raked, six are on the upper limb of the first arch
and 13 on the lower limb and the posterior edge of preo-
perculum is finely serrated.
There is a long and stout spine at the lower angle of
the preoperculum, its length is 41.0% relative to the head
length. The dorsal fin is Continuous with 13 spines and
19 rays With clear incisions between the first spines pro-
gressively decrease toward the soft ray portion. Anal fin
contains three spines with deep incisions between them
and 19 rays. The posterior edge of the dorsal, anal and
caudal fins are rounded while the Pectoral fin is
Fig. 1 Map of the Mediterranean and Levantine coast of Mediterranean pointing out the specimen collecting locality of Pomacanthus imperator;
previous record (black square); present recorded (black star), and cities; Haifa and Lattakia (black circles)
Saad et al. Marine Biodiversity Records (2018) 11:16 Page 2 of 4
supported by 19 rays in which the upper 2nd and 3rd
are the longest. The pelvic fin contains one spine and
five rays, the first ray is elongated.
The Body and head are covered with small ctenoid
scales extending to the membrane of the median and
pectoral fins. The colour of specimen (after being frozen
for 2 days): Body and most of the dorsal fin are with
slightly diagonal alternating stripes of yellow and
grey-purple, the yellow strips are much narrower. The
forehead is greenish-grey with light blue margin extend-
ing to the preopercular spine base. There is also the
knownblack mask with bluish margin that covers the
eye. In the rear of head and chest there is a dark (almost
black) coloration and the snout and cheeks are pale grey.
The anal fin is brown-reddish with curved blue stripes,
thecaudal fin is yellow, the pectoral is dark grey to
blackwhilethepelvicfinadbluish-greymembraneand
orange rays.
Origin and geographical distribution
Pomacanthus imperator has a wide Indo-Pacific distribu-
tion from the Red Sea and eastern Africa to Japan, its
type locality, and Tuamoto Island and a single record
from Hawaii (Randall 2007). The Emperor Angelfish in-
habit outer coral reef or rocky habitat at depths of 560 m.
They live solitary or in pairs, the male defending aggres-
sively its territory against cospecific males. Young speci-
mens, up to 14 cm, have distinctly different color pattern of
deep blue with white and blue stripes on the anterior part
of the body, curving progressively and forming circles on
the posterior part of the body (Fricke 1980; Heemstra and
Heemstra 2004). This pattern enables the juvenile to avoid
male aggression and settle in either reef or rocky habitat
(Fricke 1980).Thesourceofthisspecimencouldbeapos-
sible escapee from an aquarium, since P. imperator is a
popular species in the aquarium trade. Alternatively, it
could be a Lessepsian immigant that reached the eastern
Mediterranean from the Red Sea via the Suez Canal. In
2009, Golani (2010) recorded Pomacanthus imperator for
the first time in the Mediterranean Sea in Haifa coast
(eastern Mediterranean) (Fig. 1). The record represents the
second sighting of this species in the Levantine basin, but
since it is based on a single isolated individual there is no
evidence that the species has established a population in
Syrian waters. Therefore at present P. imperator must be
regarded as a casual species. There are other cases of Les-
sepsian immigrants such as Pterois miles,Parupeneus for-
sskali and Champsodon nudivittis reported by Ali et al.
(2016a,2016b,2017), respectively were recorded recently in
the Syrian coast.
Conclusion
The presently reported capture of Emperor angelfish
Pomacanthus imperator (Bloch, 1787) from the Syrian
coast would indicate that the species might be venture-
ing and expanding forther in the Mediterranean to reach
new areas. This specimen is perhaps the documented
case for this species after it was first observed in Haifa.
Consequently, this sighting should be considered as the
northernmost record made along the eastern Mediterra-
nean coasts to date..
Abbreviations
E: East; N: North; SL: Standard length; TL: Total length
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank the Scientific and Technical Research
Support Fund in the Syrian Ministry of Higher Education for providing
material support to implement this research. We thank Dr. Ibrahem Ben
Amer from RAC/SPA for reviewing the English language of the manuscript.
Funding
Scientific and Technical Research Support Fund in the Syrian Ministry of
Higher Education.
Availability of data and materials
ThespecimenisavailableatMarineScienceLaboratory-Tishreen university-Lattakia-
Syria. M.S.L 257-2018.
Authorscontributions
AS examined specimens, AS, HA and WS drafted the manuscript. All authors
gave the final approval for publication.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
No ethical approval or consent to participate was required.
Consent for publication
Not applicable.
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
PublishersNote
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affiliations.
Author details
1
Marine Science Laboratory, Faculty of Agriculture, Tishreen University, P.O
Box 1408, Lattakia, Syria.
2
Department of Biology, Faculty of sciences,
Tishreen University, Lattakia, Syria.
Fig. 2 The specimen of Pomacanthus imperator from Lattakia coast,
scale bar: 50 mm
Saad et al. Marine Biodiversity Records (2018) 11:16 Page 3 of 4
Received: 22 April 2018 Accepted: 3 July 2018
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... P. imperator has been documented once from Israel and twice from the Syrian coast (Golani et al., 2010;Capapé et al., 2018;Saad et al., 2018, respectively). Nonetheless, with only three records hitherto, P. imperator was considered unestablished, possibly an outcome of an aquarium release (Golani et al., 2010;Zenetos et al., 2016;Capapé et al., 2018;Saad et al., 2018). ...
... P. imperator has been documented once from Israel and twice from the Syrian coast (Golani et al., 2010;Capapé et al., 2018;Saad et al., 2018, respectively). Nonetheless, with only three records hitherto, P. imperator was considered unestablished, possibly an outcome of an aquarium release (Golani et al., 2010;Zenetos et al., 2016;Capapé et al., 2018;Saad et al., 2018). ...
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Reef and shore fishes of the Hawaiian islands
  • J E Randall
  • JE Randall
Randall JE. Reef and shore fishes of the Hawaiian islands. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press; 2007. p. 546.