Annotated checklist of marine fishes from the Sanctuary of Bahía Chamela, Mexico with occurrence and biogeographic data
expand article infoCristian Galván-Villa, Eduardo Ríos-Jara, Dafne Bastida-Izaguirre, Philip A. Hastings§, Eduardo F. Balart|
‡ Universidad de Guadalajara, Zapopan, Mexico
§ Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, United States of America
| Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, La Paz, Mexico
Open Access


An annotated checklist of marine fishes of the Sanctuary of Islands and Islets of Bahía Chamela in the central Mexican Pacific is presented. Records of fish species were obtained by different methods including visual census, sampling with anesthetics, fisherman-nets, and trawling with a biological dredge. Additional records were obtained from natural history collections and publications. The list comprises 196 species in 64 families and 141 genera. The Carangidae is the most speciose family with 11 species, followed by the Labridae with 10 and the Pomacentridae with nine. Fourteen species are endemic in Mexican Pacific waters, but none is restricted to Bahía Chamela. The most dominant species recorded during underwater surveys were Epinephelus labriformis, Stegastes flavilatus, and Halichoeres dispilus. Most species are of tropical affinities distributed throughout the tropical eastern Pacific (123), eastern Pacific (23), and Mexican Pacific (14). Other species are known from the eastern and Indo-Pacific regions (18), eastern Pacific and western Atlantic oceans (2), and some are circumtropical (9). A new record of the Gulf Brotula Ogilbia ventralis is provided for the Bahía Chamela and its geographical distribution is extended to Mexican central Pacific.


Species richness, Ichthyofauna, eastern Pacific, systematic list, biogeographic affinity


The study of fish diversity along the Mexican Pacific coasts started two centuries ago by naturalists and scientists who studied rich collections from some now-memorable expeditions (Gilbert 1890, Jordan et al. 1895, Breder 1926, 1927, 1928, 1936, Fowler 1944). Today the estimated number of recorded marine species along these coasts is 1,121, with the Gulf of California exhibiting the highest species richness (van der Heiden and Findley 1988, Hastings et al. 2010, Espinosa-Pérez 2014). However, there are still many areas and habitats (bays, estuaries, mangroves, reefs, littoral zones, deep-water realm) in the Mexican tropical Pacific where proper fish inventories are missing.

Fishes are an important marine group from an ecological and economic point of view. The destruction and pollution of many habitats and the overexploitation of fishes have affected marine ecosystems with the consequent loss of environmental services. For this reason, the implementation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) has begun to be a common practice in conservation and a useful fisheries management tool (Roberts et al. 2001, Edgar 2011). However, the design of an effective MPA requires information about the diversity of species inhabiting an area and its connectivity with other areas (Halpern and Warner 2003, Costello et al. 2010).

In the Mexican Pacific, there are some well-inventoried MPAs. For instance, there are well-documented checklists of fishes inhabiting Isla Guadalupe Biosphere Reserve (Reyes-Bonilla et al. 2010), an important area for the reproduction of the white shark off the Baja California peninsula. MPAs inside the Gulf of California include the Bahía de Los Ángeles Biosphere Reserve (Viesca-Lobatón et al. 2008, Mascareñas-Osorio et al. 2011), a seasonal sanctuary for the whale shark; Loreto Marine Park (Campos-Dávila et al. 2005, Rife et al. 2013); National Park Archipielago of Espíritu Santo (Aburto-Oropeza and Balart 2001, Arreola-Robles and Elorduy-Garay 2002, Rodríguez-Romero et al. 2005); Gulf of California Islands (Del Moral-Flores et al. 2013); Cabo Pulmo National Park (Alvarez-Filip et al. 2006), where sound management has restored the fish biomass (Aburto-Oropeza et al. 2011); Isla Isabel National Park (Galván-Villa et al. 2010); and Islas Marias Biosphere Reserve (Erisman et al. 2011). Others include the Archipielago de Revillagigedo Biosphere Reserve (Jordan and McGregor 1899, Castro-Aguirre and Balart 2002, Chávez-Comparán et al. 2010), Islas Marietas National Park (Solís-Gil and Jiménez-Quiroz 2004, García-Hernández et al. 2014), and Bahías de Huatulco National Park (Ramírez-Gutiérrez et al. 2007, López-Pérez et al. 2010, Juárez-Hernández et al. 2013) in the central and southern Mexican Pacific. However, many of the MPAs from the Mexican central Pacific are lacking inventories of marine fishes. One of these is the Sanctuary of Bahía Chamela located along the coast of Jalisco; it comprises eight islands and four islets dispersed along the bay.

The Sanctuary of Bahía Chamela was the first marine sanctuary in Mexico and has been protected since 2002 (Miranda et al. 2011). This sanctuary is home to species of restricted distribution and endemic fauna and flora. However, scarce information about fish diversity of the sanctuary is available. Only two previous lists of fishes of this bay are found reporting 59 and 80 species for the mainland coastline and for the two largest islands in the bay, respectively (Espinosa-Pérez et al. 2002, Galván-Villa 2015). In the current study, a comprehensive checklist of fish species from the Sanctuary of Bahía Chamela Islands has been compiled based on sampling work from 2007 to 2014, review of material from ichthyological collections, and critical analysis of selected references. A biogeographic and occurrence characterization of all species is also provided.

Material and methods

Study area. The Bahía Chamela is located in the middle coastline area of Jalisco state on the central Mexican Pacific (19°32'N; 105°06'W) (Figure 1). The bay is located between two major oceanic systems: the Gulf of Tehuantepec and the Gulf of California. The extent of the bay is 28 km from Punta Chamela to Punta Rivas (south to north). The sanctuary includes eight islands called as Pajarera, Cocinas, Mamut, Colorada, San Pedro, San Agustín, San Andrés, and La Negra, and four islets as Los Anegados, El Novillo, La Mosca, and Submarino (CONANP 2008). All of these islands and islets are included in the Marine Priority Region No. 38 of sites for conservation of the National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity of Mexico (CONABIO). The continental coast of the bay presents sandy beaches to the northern side and shallow plains and rocky beaches to the south. The islands and islets are of continental origin with similar age and composition throughout the region (possibly from the Cretaceous) (Schaaf 2002). The two larger islands have rocky and sandy beaches, while the smaller islands and the islets have rocky intertidal zones sometimes with vertical steep slopes. The depth of the bay varies between 10 and 25 m, decreasing dramatically in the proximity of the coastline and the islands.

Figure 1.

Location of Bahía Chamela, Jalisco, Mexico. Black dots show the location of the sampling sites in the bay. The dotted line indicates the limits of the Marine Protected Area.

Sampling effort and data analysis. Records of fish species were made by visual census and obtained from analyses of collection reports and materials and available publications. Records in situ were made using underwater visual census from 2007 to 2012 according to the technique described by English et al. (1994). Each transect covered an area of 100 m2 (50 m × 2 m) and was conducted by a single diver. Cryptic fishes and other specimens were collected from 2007 to 2015 with a 10% anaesthetic solution of clove oil diluted in ethanol, with a fisherman-net, and with a biological dredge. All collected specimens were deposited in the fish collection of the Laboratory of Marine Ecosystems and Aquaculture (LEMA-CPE), Centro Universitario de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Universidad de Guadalajara (Zapopan, Mexico), except specimen of Chaenopsis sp. that was deposited in the Marine Vertebrate Collection (SIO), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California (San Diego, USA). Records obtained from publications included only those that were identified to species level and excluded any questionable records that we could not confirm as species known to occur in the Mexican Pacific.

The nomenclature for species level, family designations, and systematic were updated following Eschmeyer (2015). Distributions and biogeographic affinities for species are based on Thomson et al. (2000), Hastings and Springer (2009), Erisman et al. (2011), Mascareñas-Osorio et al. (2011), and Robertson and Allen (2015), using the following categories: CT = Circumtropical (distributed throughout the tropics of the world), EP = eastern Pacific (including tropical and temperate regions), EP+ATL = eastern Pacific and western Atlantic oceans (occurs in both oceans), EP+IP = eastern Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions (occurs in both regions), MEX = Mexican waters of the Pacific (including the Gulf of California and outer coast of Baja California), and TEP = tropical eastern Pacific (extends from south of Magdalena Bay, Baja California to Cabo Blanco in northern Peru, includes the Gulf of California and offshore islands as Revillagigedo, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo, and the Galápagos). For a description of the structure of fish assemblages, the species recorded between 2007 and 2012 through visual census were classified in five categories using the frequency of occurrence: D = Dominant (> 80% of census), A = Abundant (61-80%), C = Common (41-60%), U = Uncommon (21-40%), and R = Rare (< 21%).

Results and discussion

Species richness. A list of 196 species, 141 genera, and 64 families of marine fishes from the Bahía Chamela is presented (Table 1). In comparison with previous studies (Espinoza-Pérez et al. 2002, Galván-Villa 2015), the richness of the bay increased in this study by more than 240% (by 117 species). The jacks (Carangidae) represent the most diverse family, with 11 species and 8 genera, followed by the wrasses (Labridae) with 10 species and 5 genera, and damselfishes (Pomacentridae) and grunts (Haemulidae) each with 9 species and 4 genera. Eighteen families are represented by only one species. No endemic species for Bahía Chamela were found but 14 endemic species for the Mexican Pacific are recorded here.

Checklist of fishes from the Sanctuary of Bahía Chamela, Mexico. The list is arranged systematically by class, orders, and families according to Eschmeyer (2015). Record designation: V = visual record (2007–2009); C = collected specimen (2007-2015); SIO = records of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; R1 = Espinoza-Pérez et al. (2002); R2 = Galván-Villa (2015). Frequency of occurrence: D = dominant; A = abundant; C = common; U = uncommon; R = rare. Biogeographical affinity: CT = Circumtropical; EP = Eastern Pacific; EP+ATL = Eastern Pacific and Atlantic oceans; EP+IP = Eastern Pacific and Indo-Pacific; MEX = Mexican waters of the Pacific; TEP = Tropical Eastern Pacific. IUCN Categories: EN = Endangered; VU = Vulnerable; DD = Data deficient; NT = Near threatened; LC = Least concern; NE = Not evaluated. - = No data.

CLASS/Order/Family Species Record designation Catalog number of collected specimens Frequency of occurrence Bio-geographical affinity IUCN Categories
Sphyrnidae Sphyrna lewini (Griffith & Smith, 1834) R1 - - CT EN
Narcinidae Diplobatis ommata (Jordan & Gilbert, 1890) V - R TEP VU
Rhinobatidae Rhinobatos glaucostigma Jordan & Gilbert, 1883 SIO, R1 SIO 70-238 - TEP DD
Rhinobatos leucorhynchus Günther, 1867 V R TEP NT
Zapteryx xyster Jordan & Evermann, 1896 V, SIO SIO 70-237 R TEP DD
Gymnuridae Gymnura marmorata (Cooper, 1864) R1 - - TEP LC
Myliobatidae Aetobatus narinari (Euphrasen, 1790) V, R2 - R CT NT
Urotrygonidae Urobatis concentricus Osburn & Nichols, 1916 V, R2 - R MEX DD
Urobatis halleri (Cooper, 1863) SIO, R1 SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Urotrygon munda Gill, 1863 R1 - TEP DD
Urotrygon rogersi (Jordan & Starks, 1895) SIO SIO 70-238 - TEP DD
Albulidae Albula pacifica (Beebe, 1942) R1 - - EP NE
Congridae Ariosoma gilberti (Ogilby, 1898) SIO SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Paraconger californiensis Kanazawa, 1961 V, SIO SIO 70-235 R TEP LC
Muraenidae Gymnomuraena zebra (Shaw, 1797) V, R2 - R EP+IP NE
Gymnothorax castaneus (Jordan & Gilbert, 1883) V - R TEP LC
Muraena lentiginosa Jenyns, 1842 V, R2 - R TEP LC
Ophichthidae Apterichtus equatorialis (Myers & Wade, 1941) C LEMA-PE138 - TEP LC
Myrichthys tigrinus Girard, 1859 V, R1, R2 - R TEP LC
Ophichthus triserialis (Kaup, 1856) R1 - - TEP LC
Quassiremus nothochir (Gilbert, 1890) V - R TEP LC
Clupeidae Harengula thrissina (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) C, R1 LEMA-PE92 - EP LC
Lile stolifera (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) R1 - - TEP LC
Pristigasteridae Pliosteostoma lutipinnis (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) R1 - - TEP LC
Engraulidae Anchoa ischana (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) R1 - - TEP LC
Anchoa scofieldi (Jordan & Culver, 1895) R1 - - TEP LC
Synodontidae Synodus evermanni Jordan & Bollman, 1890 SIO SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Synodus lacertinus Gilbert, 1890 V, C, R1 LEMA-PE97 R EP LC
Synodus scituliceps Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 SIO, R1 SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Synodus sechurae Hildebrand, 1946 SIO SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Bregmacerotidae Bregmaceros bathymaster Jordan & Bollman, 1890 SIO SIO 70-168 - TEP LC
Bythitidae Ogilbia boydwalkeri Møller, Schwarzhans & Nielsen, 2005 SIO SIO 70-165 - TEP LC
Ogilbia ventralis (Gill, 1863) C LEMA-PE135 - MEX LC
Batrachoididae Porichthys ephippiatus Walker & Rosenblatt, 1988 SIO SIO 70-168, 235, 237, 238 - TEP LC
Antennariidae Antennatus coccineus (Lesson, 1831) C LEMA-PE70, 71 - EP+IP NE
Antennatus sanguineus (Gill, 1863) C, SIO LEMA-PE50, 51
SIO 70-167
Gobiesocidae Arcos erythrops (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) C, SIO LEMA-PE74
SIO 70-167
Gobiesox adustus Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 SIO SIO 70-167 - TEP LC
Gobiesox papillifer Gilbert, 1890 C LEMA-PE95 - TEP LC
Atherinopsidae Atherinella eriarcha Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 SIO, R1 SIO 70-167 - TEP LC
Belonidae Ablennes hians (Valenciennes, 1846) C, SIO LEMA-PE60
SIO 70-166
Platybelone argalus (Lesueur, 1821) R1 - - CT LC
Tylosurus fodiator Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 R1 - CT LC
Holocentridae Myripristis leiognathus Valenciennes, 1846 V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 R TEP LC
Sargocentron suborbitalis (Gill, 1863) V, R2 - U TEP LC
Fistulariidae Fistularia commersonii Rüppel, 1838 V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 R EP+IP NE
Syngnathidae Hippocampus ingens Girard, 1858 C LEMA-PE99 - EP VU
Scorpaenidae Pontinus sp. 1 C LEMA-PE132 - - -
Pontinus sp. 2 C LEMA-PE136 - - -
Scorpaena mystes Jordan & Starks, 1895 V, C, R2 LEMA-PE102 R EP LC
Scorpaena sonorae Jenkins & Evermann, 1889 SIO SIO 70-238 - MEX LC
Scorpaenodes xyris (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) C, SIO LEMA-PE112, 114, 115
SIO 70-167
Triglidae Prionotus stephanophrys Lockington, 1881 SIO SIO 70-168 - TEP LC
Epinephelidae Alphestes immaculatus Breder, 1936 V, R2 - U TEP LC
Cephalopholis panamensis (Steindachner, 1877) V, R2 - C TEP LC
Dermatolepis dermatolepis (Boulenger, 1895) V - R EP LC
Epinephelus labriformis (Jenyns, 1840) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 D EP LC
Paranthias colonus (Valenciennes, 1846) V - R TEP LC
Rypticus bicolor Valenciennes, 1846 V, SIO SIO 70-167 R TEP LC
Rypticus nigripinnis Gill, 1861 V - R TEP LC
Serranidae Serranus psittacinus Valenciennes, 1846 V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 U TEP LC
Apogonidae Apogon pacificus (Herre, 1935) V, SIO SIO 70-167 R EP LC
Apogon retrosella (Gill, 1862) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 R TEP LC
Carangidae Caranx caballus Günther, 1868 V, R2 - R EP LC
Caranx sexfasciatus Quoy & Gaimard, 1825 V, R1 - R EP+IP LC
Carangoides otrynter (Jordan & Gilbert, 1883) C LEMA-PE56 - EP LC
Carangoides vinctus (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) R1 - - TEP LC
Chloroscombrus orqueta Jordan & Gilbert, 1883 R1 - - EP LC
Gnathanodon speciosus (Forsskål, 1775) V, R1 - R EP+IP NE
Hemicaranx leucurus (Günther, 1864) R1 - - TEP LC
Oligoplites saurus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) R1 - - TEP NE
Selene brevoortii (Gill, 1863) C LEMA-PE103 - EP LC
Trachinotus paitensis Cuvier, 1832 R1 - - TEP LC
Trachinotus rhodopus Gill, 1863 C, R1 LEMA-PE108, 113 - EP LC
Lutjanidae Hoplopagrus guentherii Gill, 1862 V, R1 - R TEP LC
Lutjanus argentiventris (Peters, 1869) V, R1, R2 - U TEP LC
Lutjanus colorado Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 R1 - - TEP LC
Lutjanus guttatus (Steindachner, 1869) V, R1, R2 - R EP LC
Lutjanus inermis (Peters, 1869) V - R TEP LC
Lutjanus novemfasciatus Gill, 1862 V, C, R1, R2 LEMA-PE119, 120 R TEP LC
Lutjanus viridis (Valenciennes, 1846) V, R2 - R TEP LC
Gerreidae Diapterus peruvianus (Cuvier, 1830) R1 - - TEP LC
Eucinostomus dowii (Gill, 1863) SIO SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Eucinostomus gracilis (Gill, 1862) SIO, R1 SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Gerres simillimus Regan, 1907 V, R1 - - TEP LC
Haemulidae Anisotremus taeniatus Gill, 1861 SIO SIO 70-167 - TEP LC
Haemulon flaviguttatum Gill, 1862 V, SIO, R1, R2 SIO 70-167 U EP LC
Haemulon maculicauda (Gill, 1862) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 U TEP LC
Haemulon sexfasciatum Gill, 1862 V, R2 - R TEP LC
Haemulon scudderii Gill, 1862 R1 - - TEP LC
Haemulon steindachneri (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) V, R1, R2 - U TEP LC
Microlepidotus brevipinnis (Steindachner, 1869) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 R TEP LC
Pomadasys macracanthus (Günther, 1864) R1 - - TEP LC
Pomadasys panamensis (Steindachner, 1876) R1 - - TEP LC
Sciaenidae Cynoscion nannus Castro-Aguirre & Arvizu-Martínez, 1976 SIO SIO 70-168 - TEP LC
Pareques fuscovittatus (Kendall & Radcliffe, 1912) V, SIO SIO 70-167 R MEX LC
Umbrina xanti Gill, 1862 R1 - - TEP LC
Polynemidae Polydactylus approximans (Lay & Bennett, 1839) R1 - - TEP LC
Mullidae Mulloidichthys dentatus (Gill, 1862) V, R2 - C TEP LC
Pseudupeneus grandisquamis (Gill, 1863) V, R1 - R TEP LC
Kyphosidae Kyphosus vaigiensis (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825) V, R2 - R EP NE
Kyphosus elegans (Peters, 1869) V, R1, R2 - R TEP LC
Chaetodontidae Chaetodon humeralis Günther, 1860 V, R1, R2 - A EP LC
Johnrandallia nigrirostris Gill, 1862 V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 U TEP LC
Pomacanthidae Holocanthus passer Valenciennes, 1846 V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 C TEP LC
Pomacanthus zonipectus (Gill, 1862) V, R2 - R TEP LC
Pomacentridae Abudefduf declivifrons (Gill, 1862) V - R TEP LC
Abudefduf troschelii (Gill, 1862) V, R2 - U TEP LC
Chromis atrilobata Gill, 1862 V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 U TEP LC
Microspathodon bairdii (Gill, 1862) V, R2 - R TEP LC
Microspathodon dorsalis (Gill, 1862) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 A TEP LC
Stegastes acapulcoensis (Fowler, 1944) V, R2 - A TEP LC
Stegastes flavilatus (Gill, 1862) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 D TEP LC
Stegastes leucorus (Gilbert, 1892) V, R2 - R MEX VU
Stegastes rectifraenum (Gill, 1862) V, R2 - R TEP LC
Cirrhitidae Cirrhitichthys oxycephalus (Bleeker, 1855) V - R TEP NE
Cirrhitus rivulatus Valenciennes, 1846 V - C TEP LC
Mugilidae Mugil curema Valenciennes, 1836 V, R1, R2 - R EP+ATL NE
Chaenomugil proboscideus (Günther, 1861) R1 - - TEP LC
Labridae Bodianus diplotaenia (Gill, 1862) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 C TEP LC
Halichoeres chierchiae Di Caporiacco, 1948 V, R1, R2 - C TEP LC
Halichoeres dispilus (Günther, 1864) V, C, SIO, R2 LEMA-PE93, 127, 128
SIO 70-167
Halichoeres melanotis (Gilbert, 1890) V, R2 - R TEP LC
Halichoeres nicholsi (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 A TEP LC
Halichoeres notospilus (Günther, 1864) V, R2 - U TEP LC
Iniistius pavo (Valenciennes, 1840) C LEMA-PE133 - EP+IP LC
Novaculichthys taeniourus (Lacepède, 1801) V, R2 - R EP+IP LC
Thalassoma grammaticum Gilbert, 1890 V, R2 - R EP+IP LC
Thalassoma lucasanum (Gill, 1862) V, R2 - C TEP LC
Scaridae Nicholsina denticulata (Evermann & Radcliffe, 1917) V, R2 - R EP LC
Scarus ghobban Forsskål, 1775 V, R2 - R EP+IP LC
Scarus perrico Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 V, R2 - R TEP LC
Tripterygiidae Axoclinus storeyae (Brock, 1940) V, C - R MEX LC
Enneanectes carminalis (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) C, SIO LEMA-PE121
SIO 70-167
Enneanectes glendae Rosenblatt, Miller & Hastings, 2013 V, SIO SIO 70-167 R MEX NE
Enneanectes macrops Rosenblatt, Miller & Hastings, 2013 SIO SIO 70-167 - MEX NE
Dactyloscopidae Dactyloscopus amnis Miller & Briggs, 1962 C LEMA-PE78 - TEP LC
Gillellus arenicola Gilbert, 1890 C LEMA-PE117 - TEP LC
Labrisomidae Labrisomus xanti (Gill, 1860) V - R MEX LC
Malacoctenus ebisui Springer, 1959 V, C, SIO, R2 LEMA-PE100, 107
SIO 70-167
Malacoctenus mexicanus Springer, 1959 C, SIO LEMA-PE98
SIO 70-167
Malacoctenus polyporosus Springer, 1959 V, C LEMA-PE110 R TEP LC
Malacoctenus tetranemus (Cope, 1877) C, SIO LEMA-PE96, 109
SIO 70-167
Paraclinus tanygnathus Rosenblatt & Parr, 1969 C LEMA-PE101, 106, 111 - MEX LC
Starksia spinipenis (Al-Uthman, 1960) V, C, SIO LEMA-PE118
SIO 70-167
Chaenopsidae Acanthemblemaria macrospilus Brock, 1940 V, C, R2 LEMA-PE87, 134 R MEX LC
Chaenopsis sp.§ SIO SIO 14-41 - - -
Coralliozetus boehlkei Stephens, 1963 C LEMA-PE84,85 - TEP LC
Ekemblemaria myersi Stephens, 1963 C, SIO LEMA-PE80, 86, 104
SIO 70-167
Emblemaria piratica Ginsburg, 1942 C LEMA-PE81 - TEP LC
Protemblemaria bicirrus (Hildebrand, 1946) C LEMA-PE90, 105 - TEP LC
Blenniidae Entomacrodus chiostictus (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) C LEMA-PE137 - TEP LC
Hypsoblennius brevipinnis (Günther, 1861) C LEMA-PE89 - TEP LC
Ophioblennius steindachneri Jordan & Evermann, 1898 V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 U TEP LC
Plagiotremus azaleus (Jordan & Bollman, 1890) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 R EP LC
Eleotridae Eleotris picta Kner, 1863 R1 - - TEP LC
Gobiomorus maculatus (Günther, 1859) R1 - - TEP LC
Gobiidae Coryphopterus urospilus Ginsburg, 1938 V, SIO, R2 LEMA-PE94
SIO 70-167
Ctenogobius sagittula (Günther, 1862) C LEMA-PE62 - EP LC
Elacatinus puncticulatus (Ginsburg, 1938) V, C, SIO, R2 LEMA-PE88, 116
SIO 70-167
Gymneleotris seminuda (Günther, 1864) V - R TEP LC
Tigrigobius digueti (Pellegrin, 1901) C, SIO LEMA-PE69,83
SIO 70-167
Microdesmidae Microdesmus dipus Günther, 1864 C LEMA-PE66 - TEP DD
Microdesmus dorsipunctatus Dawson, 1968 C LEMA-PE67, 82 - TEP DD
Ephippidae Chaetodipterus zonatus (Girard, 1858) R1 - - EP LC
Zanclidae Zanclus cornutus (Linnaeus, 1758) V, R2 - R EP+IP NE
Acanthuridae Acanthurus xanthopterus Valenciennes, 1835 V, R1 - R EP+IP LC
Prionurus punctatus Gill, 1862 V, R2 - R TEP LC
Sphyraenidae Sphyraena ensis Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 C, R1 LEMA-PE129 - TEP LC
Scombridae Euthynnus lineatus Kishinouye, 1920 V - R EP+IP LC
Paralichthyidae Cyclopsetta sp. C LEMA-PE130 - - -
Etropus crossotus Jordan & Gilbert, 1882 R1 - - EP+ATL NE
Etropus sp. C LEMA-PE123a - - -
Syacium latifrons (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882) SIO SIO 70-238 - TEP LC
Syacium ovale (Günther, 1864) SIO SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Syacium sp. C LEMA-PE124 - - -
Bothidae Bothus constellatus (Jordan, 1889) SIO SIO 70-237, 238 - EP+IP NE
Monolene dubiosa Garman, 1899 SIO SIO 70-168 - TEP LC
Cynoglossidae Symphurus atramentatus Jordan & Bollman, 1890 SIO SIO 70-237 - TEP LC
Symphurus leei Jordan & Bollman, 1890 C, SIO LEMA-PE122
SIO 70-235
Symphurus melanurus Clark, 1936 C LEMA-PE131 - TEP LC
Symphurus sp. C LEMA-PE123b, 125, 126 - - -
Balistidae Balistes polylepis Steindachner, 1876 V, R2 - R EP+IP LC
Pseudobalistes naufragium (Jordan & Starks, 1895) V, R2 - R TEP LC
Sufflamen verres (Gilbert & Starks, 1904) V, R2 - C TEP LC
Monacanthidae Aluterus scriptus (Osbeck, 1765) V, R2 - R CT NE
Ostraciidae Cantherhines dumerilii (Hollard, 1854) V - R EP+IP NE
Ostracion meleagris Shaw, 1796 V, R2 - R EP+IP NE
Tetraodontidae Arothron hispidus (Linnaeus, 1758) V - R EP+IP NE
Arothron meleagris (Anonymous, 1798) V, R1, R2 - U EP+IP NE
Canthigaster punctatissima (Günther, 1870) V, R2 - R TEP LC
Sphoeroides annulatus (Jenyns, 1842) V, SIO, R1, R2 SIO 70-238 R EP LC
Sphoeroides lobatus (Steindachner, 1870) V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-237, 238 R TEP LC
Diodontidae Chilomycterus reticulatus Linnaeus, 1758 V, R2 - R CT NE
Diodon holocanthus Linnaeus, 1758 V, SIO, R2 SIO 70-167 C CT NE
Diodon hystrix Linnaeus, 1758 V, R1, R2 - R CT NE

The fish species richness of Bahía Chamela (196 species) is greater than in other surveyed MPAs of the Mexican Pacific, including Bahía de Los Ángeles (93 species), Bahía Loreto (66), Cabo Pulmo (62), and Isla Isabel (118) in the Gulf of California (Campos-Dávila et al. 2005, Alvarez-Filip et al. 2006, Galván-Villa et al. 2010, Viesca-Lobaton et al. 2008, Mascareñas-Osorio et al. 2011); Islas Marietas (46) (Solís-Gil and Jiménez-Quiroz 2004) in the central Mexican Pacific; and Bahías de Huatulco (112) in the southern Mexican Pacific (López-Pérez et al. 2010). Only three species (Hippocampus ingens, Holacanthus passer, Pomacanthus zonipectus) occurring in the bay have been designated with special protection category by the Mexican Official Norm 059-ECOL-2010. Furthermore, in the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN 2015) three species are assessed as vulnerable (Diplobatis ommata, H. ingens, Stegastes leucorus) and one as endangered (Sphyrna lewini) (Table 1).

Fifty-four percent of the species was recorded using visual census. The composition of the fish assemblage of the bay is characterized mainly by rare species (72%). Three species are categorized as dominant: Epinephelus labriformis, Stegastes flavilatus, and Halichoeres dispilus; these species are widely distributed along the Mexican Pacific and are recognized as important in the reef-fish assemblage structure for this bay and other MPAs of the Mexican Pacific because of their high abundance and biomass (Galván-Villa 2015). Another four species are categorized as abundant: Chaetodon humeralis, Microspathodon dorsalis, Stegastes acapulcoensis, and Halichoeres nicholsi; nine as common, and 13 as uncommon. The number of species inhabiting the bay may increase after checking additional details of some of the collected specimens and published records. Additions may include undescribed species, juvenile stages from different species, or records from publications with erroneous determinations. For example, a single female individual of chaenopsid pike-blenny (Chaenopsis sp.) that was collected from sandy bottom of the bay corresponds to an undescribed species distributed from Mexico to Costa Rica (Hastings pers obs). Also three individuals of Pontinus (sp. 1 and sp. 2) were collected, but due to their small size (< 2 cm), the identification of species was not possible. They probably correspond to P. furcirhinus or P. sierra, as both species have been recorded in the area (Robertson and Allen 2015). Another five juvenile individuals of flounders (Paralichthyidae) and eight tonguefishes (Cynoglossidae) collected by the biological dredge from sandy bottoms were not identified to species level. Future careful taxonomic work on these and other specimens would increase the number of species recorded from the bay.

Biogeographic affinity. Most fish species recorded in Bahía Chamela are widely distributed in the tropical eastern Pacific (123 spp = 66%) (Figure 2). Twenty-three species occur in the eastern Pacific, and 18 occur in both eastern and Indo-Pacific waters. Fourteen species are endemic in Mexican waters of the Pacific. One specimen of the Gulf Brotula, Ogilbia ventralis, was collected with clove oil anesthetic from under rocks, depth 6 m at the islet Novillos (Figure 3). This record represents a southern range extension for this species, known previously from the Gulf of California and southern part of the outer Baja peninsula. Bahía Chamela is the type locality for a second Ogilbia species, O. boydwalkeri (Møller et al. 2005). The festive drum fish, Pareques fuscovitattus, is the only endemic species in the Mexican Province (Robertson and Allen 2015). Nine species are circumtropical, and another two (Mugil curema and Etropus crossotus) occur in both the eastern Pacific and western Atlantic regions. Seven undetermined or non-described species were excluded from the analysis of biogeographic affinity.

Figure 2.

Map showing the number of fish species recorded in Bahía Chamela and their biogeographic affinities.

Figure 3.

Ogilbia ventralis . LEMA-PE135, ♂, 56 mm SL, Pacific Mexico, Bahía Chamela. Scale 10 mm. Photo by CMGV.

Previous studies considered Haemulon steindachneri (Haemulidae) to occur in both eastern Pacific and western Atlantic oceans, although recently molecular analysis found that these two populations belong to different species, so the valid distribution of this nominal species is the TEP (Rocha et al. 2008). Future review of other species that reportedly occur in both oceans is important to define valid distributions. Finally, according to Robertson and Cramer (2009), the fish richness of Bahía Chamela is most similar to that of the Panama biogeographic province, but there is an important contribution of species from the Gulf of California and outer Baja peninsula and a few species from other oceans.


Thanks to Cande Hernández, Cristina Zuñiga, Diego Moreno, Valentina Fernández, Abel Trejo, José L. Arreola, Arizbeth Alonso, Rafael Negrete, Néstor Ortiz, Martín Pérez, and Manuel Ayón for assistance during fieldwork. We thank Cynthia Klepadlo and H.J. Walker for helpful assistance at the Marine Vertebrate Collection at SIO (SCRIPPS), Ricardo Saldierna (CICIMAR) and Lucia Campos (CIBNOR) for their kind support identifying some juvenile specimens. Comments on manuscript from Carole Baldwin and one anonymous referee helped to substantially improve the final version. This study was supported by the CONABIO, Mexico (Project JF023). Field collection of fishes was done with the official permission of SEMARNAT (SGPA/DGVS/05775/12).


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