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versão impressa ISSN 0188-8897

Hidrobiológica vol.23 no.3 México Set./Dez. 2013




New records of fishes from Guadalupe Island, northwest Mexico


Nuevos registros de peces en la Isla Guadalupe, noroeste de México


Mariana Walther-Mendoza1,2,4, Arturo Ayala-Bocos1, Mauricio Hoyos-Padilla3 and Héctor Reyes-Bonilla1


1Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur. Departamento Académico de Biología Marina. Carretera al sur km. 5.5 Col. El Calandrio. La Paz, B.C.S., 23080. México. E-mail:

2University of Queensland. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management. St. Lucia, 4072, Brisbane, Australia.

3Pelagios-Kakunjá A.C. Sinaloa 1540. La Paz, B.C.S., 23070. México.

4Sociedad de Historia Natural Niparajá, A.C. Programa de Conservación Marina Revolución 430. Col. Esterito. La Paz, B.C.S., 23020. México.


Recibido: 5 de julio de 2012.
Aceptado: 11 de noviembre de 2013.



The icthyofauna from Guadalupe Island, Mexico, has been scarcely studied. This paper presents additions to the systematic checklist of fishes from that oceanic island, and is based on data obtained from museums, field records and international databases. A total of 22 new records are depicted for the locality (19 deep-water species and 3 shallow reef-dwelling fishes), including one addition to the Mexican fauna (Nansenia candida). These reports complement the previous list of 328 species for Guadalupe Island,which now reaches 350 species, distributed in 5 classes, 44 orders and 127 families.

Key words: Biogeography, Biosphere Reserve, Oceanic Island, Pacific Ocean.



La ictiofauna de la Isla Guadalupe, México, ha sido escasamente estudiada. Este trabajo presenta adiciones al listado sistemático de los peces de dicha isla oceánica, y se basa en datos de museos, registros de campo y bases de datos internacionales. Un total de 22 nuevos registros se dan a conocer para esa localidad (19 especies de agua profunda y 3 de fondos arrecifales someros), incluyendo una adición a la fauna conocida de peces de México (Nansenia candida). Esos reportes complementan la lista previa de 328 especies de peces para la Isla Guadalupe, la cual ahora alcanza 350 especies, distribuidas en 5 clases, 44 órdenes y 127 familias.

Palabras clave: Biogeografía, Isla Oceánica, Océano Pacífico, Reserva de la Biósfera.



Guadalupe Island (29°00' N, 118°26' W), the northernmost oceanic territory of Mexico in the Pacific Ocean, has been recognized worldwide due to its endemism and great biodiversity, both on land and sea (Santos-del Prado & Peters, 2008). Declared by the Mexican Government as a Biosphere Reserve in 2005, it is an important fishing area for commercial species of high economic value such as abalone, lobsters and sea cucumbers (Campos, 2007; Gallo-Reynoso et al., 2008). Also, this location has recently developed as a tourist site for sightings of great white sharks, Carcharodon carcharías (Linnaeus, 1758), as these predators aggregate in the area and show site fidelity (Domeier & Nasby-Lucas, 2007). The island is located 240 km off the western coast of Baja California, Mexico, and is directly influenced by the California Current, with an average sea surface temperature of 18 °C (Santos-del Prado & Peters, 2008). Its extreme isolation has limited the number of studies and resulted in a dearth of biological information, especially about the basic ecology and characterization of its marine communities. This paper aims to improve our knowledge on the fish fauna of Guadalupe Island, by providing a collection of new records of species obtained from museums, field records and internet databases.



Information for this study was extracted from a variety of sources. Most records were obtained from the Ichthyology Department of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM) database, as the specimens have been checked for correct identification. In addition, an internet search of the following sites was made: FishBase (, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility ( and the Ocean Biogeographic Information System ( In the results, only those taxa that were specific to Guadalupe Island were incorporated, including observations, census or collections on site or in its surroundings (50 km from the center of the island). In addition, field observations from SCUBA diving surveys (2008-2010) and records from sport fishing log books (2005-2009) provided by the authorities of the Biosphere Reserve of Guadalupe Island (Reserva de la Biósfera Isla Guadalupe RBIG), were considered in the revision. Finally we include sightings and photographic evidence obtained during submersions conducted aboard the "Ocean Pearl" and "Deep See", two self-propelled electric submersibles that can carry two or three occupants to depths of 153 m and 457 m respectively. Eighteen dives were made in four sites: Playa Norte (11 dives), Cañones Gemelos (4 dives), Playa Palmas (2 dives) and Punta Pilar (1 dive), during September, October and December, 2008. To take into consideration only valid names in the checklist, we consulted the taxonomic arrangements and synonyms presented in FishBase, Love et al. (2005), and the Catalog of Fishes of the California Academy of Sciences (



From the information search, we could identify a total of 22 new records of fishes for Guadalupe Island, belonging to 22 genera, 22 families, 14 orders and 2 classes (Table 1). Of these, nine (41%) have tropical affinities, while the remaining ones inhabit cold or temperate waters. In relation to bathymetry, 11 species (50%) are typical from deep waters (depth mid-range > 50 m), and the remainder 11 are common in shallow water, including the chub Kyphosus elegans (Peters, 1869), the cardinalfish Apogon retrosella (Gill, 1862) and the triggerfish Balistes polylepis Steindachner, 1876, typical residents in rocky reefs (Robertson and Allen, 2010). From the biogeographic perspective and considering the 22 new records, Guadalupe Island marks the southern range border of only one of these fish species Nansenia candida Cohen, 1958, which is also a new record for Mexican waters.



The data from Table 1 are complementary to the recently published ichtyofaunal checklist of Guadalupe Island, which includes 328 species (Reyes-Bonilla et al., 2011); thus adding to a new total of 350 species, in 127 families, 44 orders and 5 classes. Probably the most relevant result is that this location represents the southernmost range of the bluethroat argentine Nansenia candida (previously acknowledged at California, U.S.A.; Moser, 1996; Love et al., 2005;

Most fishes in Table 1 are small (less than 20 cm in total length) or hard to observe or catch as they live in deep or open waters (Love et al., 2005); therefore, this is the first paper to properly address their presence at Guadalupe. However it is rather surprising that the formal literature has overlooked the presence of species that have been observed repeatedly in the area and which are of touristic and fishing importance, such as the whale shark Rhincodon typus Smith, 1828, the whitenose shark Nasolamia velox(Gilbert, 1898), the hake Merlucciusproductus (Ayres, 1855) and the dolphinfish Coryphaena hippurus Linnaeus, 1758. This situation calls for a more thorough study of the marine communities of this isolated island in order to have a full checklist of the local ichtyofauna. Finally, it is worthwhile to note that eight of the new records included here are confirmed in a non-refereed tablet application authored by two specialists (Robertson & Allen, 2012; Table 1); unfortunately the program did not specify the origin of the records, but nevertheless that source supports the results presented here.

The use of submersibles might significantly improve our knowledge, as occurred in the case of the first documented reports of the longnose skate Raja rhina Jordan & Gilbert, 1880, the roughbar frogfish Antennarius avalonis Jordan & Starks, 1907, and the triggerfish Balistes polylepis at the island (Table 1). An interesting note was the photographic and video record of two specimens of a chimera, the spotted ratfish Hydrolagus colliei, (Lay & Bennett, 1839) found at a depth of 289 m. This species is distributed from southeastern Alaska to Sebastian Vizcaino Bay (27°N) in the Baja California Peninsula (Miller & Lea, 1972), but has never been pictured in Mexico before, probably because of its benthopelagic habits and null commercial importance (Gonzalez-Acosta et al., 1999).

In conclusion, this paper documents 22 new fish records for Guadalupe Island, increasing the checklist to 350 in total. One of the new findings represents an addition to the Mexican ichthyofaunal records.



We thank Rick Feeney and Jeff Seigel (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County), who kindly provided us with the full catalog of fishes collected at Guadalupe Island and deposited in LACM, key information for this paper. Theodore Pietsch (University of Washington) helped us with information on anglerfishes, and Nadia Citlali Olivares-Bañuelos (Former Director of the Biosphere Reserve) allowed us to examine the information from their sport fishing logs. Part of the data were obtained in the expeditions "Jatay" and "Great Migrations" supported by Grupo Bursátil Mexicano and National Geographic, respectively. Two anonymous referees provided observations and key comments about the fish distributions. During the preparation of the paper, the first author had Masters Scholarships from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de México (214520), and from AusAID (Australian Development Awards; ST0005CS6).



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