Gymnothorax punctatus Bloch & Schneider 1801

Smith, David G., Bogorodsky, Sergey V., Mal, Ahmad O. & Alpermann, Tilman J., 2019, Review of the moray eels (Anguilliformes: Muraenidae) of the Red Sea, with description of a new species, Zootaxa 4704 (1), pp. 1-87: 52-54

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Gymnothorax punctatus Bloch & Schneider 1801


Gymnothorax punctatus Bloch & Schneider 1801   —Spotted Moray

( Figure 34 View FIGURE 34 )

Gymnothorax punctatus Bloch & Schneider 1801: 526   ( Tranquebar, India). Syntypes, ZMB 6141 (1, ca. 710, stuffed), 3989 (1, 210).— Fowler & Steinitz 1956: 269; Dor 1984: 28; Goren & Dor 1994: 7; Randall & Golani 1995: 866; Lieske & Myers 2004: 37; Golani & Bogorodsky 2010: 10; Golani & Fricke 2018: 22.

Lycodontis cf. undulatus: Ben Tuvia & Steinitz 1952: 4   .

Red Sea material. Israel: BPBM 35745 (1, 775), Eilat; HUJ 4708 (1, 760), Eilat; HUJ 4989 (1, 780); HUJ 4992 (1, 783), Eilat. Egypt: USNM 312701 (1, 704), Gulf of Aqaba, El Himeira; USNM 316922 (3, 220–673), Gulf of Aqaba, El Himeira.

Comparative material. India: ZMB 3989 View Materials (1, 201 mm, syntype)   ; ZMB 6141 View Materials (1, ca. 710, syntype)   .

Description. In TL: preanal length 2.2–2.4, predorsal length 8.4–9.5, head length 6.5–7.7, body depth at anus 13–24. In head length: snout length 4.5–6.0, eye diameter 8.1–13, upper-jaw length 2.3–3.1. Pores: LL 2, SO 3, IO 4, POM 6. Vertebrae: predorsal 5–7, preanal 55–56, total 138–144.

Body moderately elongate; anus before midlength; dorsal-fin origin before gill opening. Snout somewhat elongate, jaws of equal length. Eye moderate, over middle of upper jaw. Anterior nostril tubular; posterior nostril above anterior part of eye.

Teeth smooth, slender and pointed. Intermaxillary teeth in a single peripheral series, about 4–6 on each side, conical, increasing in size posteriorly; 3 median teeth. Maxillary teeth biserial in smaller specimens, with 2–3 larger inner teeth anteriorly, outer series of 12–19 smaller teeth. Dentary teeth with 2–3 larger inner teeth anteriorly, 18–20 smaller outer teeth. Vomerine teeth small, uniserial, about 7–11.

Color: reddish brown, covered with small pale spots on body and dorsal part of head and snout, the spots smaller and more numerous anteriorly. Spots in smaller specimens round, in 3–4 rows on tail, extending onto dorsal fin but not anal fin. In larger specimens, spots more numerous and irregular in shape.

Maximum size about 800 mm.

Distribution and habitat. Our specimens all came from the Red Sea; the syntypes were collected at Tranquebar, on the southeastern coast of India. A rare species, the few other specimens known in museum collections came from Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The usual habitat is coastal rocky and coral reefs from depths of 3– 20 m.

Remarks. It is not certain that our specimens belong to the same species described by Bloch & Schneider (1801), and it is not completely clear whether the two syntypes represent the same species. The larger syntype, ZMB 6141, ca. 710 mm, is covered with round, ocellated spots, somewhat larger and more regular than those in our large specimens. The smaller syntype, ZMB 3989, 201 mm, has much larger spots, at least as large as the eye, distinctly larger than those on our small specimens. The larger syntype is stuffed and mounted, and a vertebral count is not available. The smaller syntype was examined by E. B. Böhlke, who recorded an approximate count of 134, which is lower than those of our specimens. Our specimens resemble Gymnothorax johnsoni   , but the spots are smaller at all sizes, and there are more vertebrae (138–144 vs. 131–140). The white-spotted Gymnothorax   species are confusing and further study is needed to sort them out, using both genetic and morphological characters. No Red Sea specimen for sequencing of the mitochondrial COI barcoding gene was collected during this study. The only specimen with available sequence data under the name G. punctatus   in BOLD comes from the southeast coast of India. This specimen forms part of a highly supported clade with G. undulatus   . However, as in other cases where we do not add our own data, we solely rely here on the species identification by the sequence authors.


Bishop Museum


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History














Gymnothorax punctatus Bloch & Schneider 1801

Smith, David G., Bogorodsky, Sergey V., Mal, Ahmad O. & Alpermann, Tilman J. 2019

Gymnothorax punctatus

Golani, D. & Fricke, R. 2018: 22
Golani, D. & Bogorodsky, S. V. 2010: 10
Lieske, E. & Myers, R. F. 2004: 37
Randall, J. E. & Golani, D. 1995: 866
Goren, M. & Dor, M. 1994: 7
Dor, M. 1984: 28
Fowler, H. W. & Steinitz, H. 1956: 269
Bloch, M. E. & Schneider, J. G. 1801: 526