Alabes scotti, Hutchins & Morrison, 2004

Hutchin, Barry & Morrison, Sue, 2004, Five New Fish Species of the Genus Alabes (Gobiesocidae: Cheilobranchinae), Records of the Australian Museum 56 (2), pp. 147-158: 155-158

publication ID 10.3853/j.0067-1975.56.2004.1426

persistent identifier

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scientific name

Alabes scotti


Alabes scotti   n.sp.

Fig. 5; Tables 1, 6

Type material. HOLOTYPE: CSIRO H.3776-01, 48 mm SL, New South Wales, Disaster Bay (from 37°18.9'S 149°59.6'E to 37°16.5'S 149°59.3'E), benthic sled at 24–30 m, G. Yearsley on FRV Southern Surveyor , 2 September 1994 GoogleMaps   . PARATYPES (7 specimens, 28–48 mm SL, from southeastern Australia): AMS   I.23428-001, 3 specimens: 40–45 mm SL (smallest cleared and stained), Tasmania, off Wardley's Point (41°40'S 148°18'E), depth 27 m, P. Colman on RV GoogleMaps   Sprightly , 24 May 1973 ( BMR station 573–2032); AMS   I.36095-001, 28 mm SL, Tasmania, south of St Helens Point (41°30'S 148°17.5'E), benthic grab at 31 m (over very coarse yellowish sand), P. Colman on RV GoogleMaps   Sprightly , 24 March 1973 ( BMR station S73–2033); AMS   I.37680-001, 2 specimens, 39–41 mm SL, New South Wales, off Tathra (from 36°37'S 150°02'E to 36°40'S 150°04'E), bottom trawl at 38–46 m, FRV Kapala   , 13 December 1994 (field number 94-33-04); WAM GoogleMaps   P.32222-001, 43 mm SL (cleared and stained), collected with AMS I.37680-001.

Diagnosis. The diagnostic characters of Alabes scotti   are listed in Table 1. It differs from all other species of Alabes   by a combination of its thin, elongate body, slender, acute head with relatively long, projecting upper lip, very small gill opening, 4–5 caudal-fin rays, long but very low dorsal fin, almost non-existent anal fin, and unique black and white barred coloration. Alabes scotti   is similar to both A. parvula   and A. occidentalis   (described above), differing in coloration, its apparent lack of transparency of the body, and different vertebral features (see Table 1).

Description. Measurements of the holotype and paratypes are presented in Table 6. Body very elongate and subcylindrical, reaching a maximum depth about middle of body, then tapering to a very small caudal fin, body depth 15.8 (16.1–18.7) in SL, width at level of gill slit (= maximum body width) 23.3 (20.7–28.2) in SL; head acute, a little wider than body (head width 2.9 [2.6–3.0] in HL), HL 6.6 (6.2– 7.2) in SL; snout triangular in dorsal view, with a pointed fleshy upper lip, length 5.4 (4.8–6.3) in HL; diameter of orbit 5.6 (5.3–5.9) in HL; bony interorbital very narrow, width (17.9 [16.4–22.6] in HL); total of two cephalic pores on each side of head, consisting of one postocular pore and one anterior nasal pore (latter very small and in some paratypes, difficult to detect). Gill opening very small, length 16.3 (13.6–23.0) in HL; mouth inferior, upper lip projecting well forward of lower lip (both lips fleshy), rear corner of mouth reaching almost to below anterior margin of eye (pigmented area); teeth conical, caninelike, 1 row in upper and lower jaws; margin of dorsal fin in holotype rather irregular in outline; caudal fin with 4 (4–5) fin rays; base of dorsal fin long, insertion just behind rear border of head (snout to insertion 5.2 [4.2–5.5] in SL); anal fin very short, lower than dorsal fin in height, insertion just anterior to caudal fin (snout to insertion 1.1 [1.0–1.3] in SL), continuing anteriorly as a low skin ridge; snout to urogenital opening 2.6 (2.5–2.7) in SL; urogenital papilla considerably enlarged in holotype; total vertebrae could not be counted for holotype but cleared and stained paratype has a total of 68 vertebra (22 precaudal), with last epineural on 26th vertebra. Preserved coloration (in alcohol). Head and body overall pale brown, fins more translucent; 5 faint reddish crossbands on body, anteriormost at level of gill opening, posterior 4 continuing onto dorsal fin (urogenital opening located midway between bars 3 and 4).

Live coloration (based on a colour transparency of the holotype taken just after capture, Fig. 5): ground colour brownish orange, tail a little paler posteriorly; 5 blackish cross bars outlined with white on anterior portion of body, posterior two more brownish, although dorsal edge blackish; five white transverse lines interspersed between black bars, one between each pair of black bars and one anterior to first bar.

Distribution. Alabes scotti   is known only from a few scattered coastal localities off southeastern Australia, from Tathra in southern New South Wales, west to Cape Everard in eastern Victoria, and south to the region of St Helens Point in northeastern Tasmania.

Remarks. Alabes scotti   apparently lives on sandy bottoms at depths between 24 and 46 m from which it has been collected using benthic sleds and grabs. It occupies a similar habitat to that of Alabes obtusirostris   (described above), and may be easily separated from the latter by its more acute head (latter has a blunt head). The late E.O.G Scott of Launceston, Tasmania, first brought this species to the senior author’s attention in 1982 when he provided a rough illustration of a clingfish he believed was undescribed. Unfortunately he never pursued his plan to describe it and his specimens have not been located (R. Green, pers. comm.) This species, therefore, is named scotti   in his honour.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We would like to thank the following for helping with field work, providing specimens on loan, or assisting this study in other ways: M. McGrouther (AMS), M. Gomon, R. Kuiter and D. Bray (NMV), J. Johnson (QM), P. Last, G. Yearsley and A. Graham (CSIRO), the late E. Scott and R. Green (QVM), G. Allen, C. Bryce, G. Moore, R. Swainston, J. Keesing and the late N. Sinclair (WAM), A. Gill (BMNH), P. Pruvost (MNHN), and C. Stott (Dunsborough, Western Australia). Colour transparencies of hard-to-get specimens were generously provided by R. Kuiter, A. Graham, M. McGrouther and J. Johnson.


Australian National Fish Collection


Collection of Leptospira Strains


Bureau of Mineral Resources


Western Australian Museum