Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp 2635–2640 | Cite as

First larval record of Pterois volitans (Pisces: Scorpaenidae) collected from the ichthyoplankton in the Atlantic

  • Lourdes Vásquez-Yeomans
  • Laura Carrillo
  • Selene Morales
  • Estrella Malca
  • James A. MorrisJr.
  • Thomas Schultz
  • John T. Lamkin
Invasion Note


The first record of a lionfish larva Pterois volitans (Linnaeus 1758) collected from the ichthyoplankton in the Atlantic was found within the Yucatan current off the Western Caribbean, near Cancun, Mexico. The postflexion larva measured 8 mm standard length and was collected using a neuston net aboard the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter on April 10, 2010. Published morphological and meristic characters were initially used for identification; genetic verification using mtDNA followed. The larva showed 3 distinct pigments beneath the parietal spines that were not included in the original larval description of the species. Ageing of sagittal otoliths exhibited 15–16 daily increments indicating a possible spawn in late March. Given that adult lionfish are established along the Mesoamerican barrier reef, oceanographic patterns suggest that the likely origin of this larva may have been from the southern coast of the Mexican Caribbean to Belize or even Honduras. The Yucatan Current is a rapid means for the potential dispersal of lionfish larvae into the Gulf of Mexico and southern Florida.


Lionfish larva Pterois volitans Larval dispersal Yucatan Current Western Caribbean Atlantic Ocean 



We acknowledge the captain and crew of the R/V Gordon Gunter for sample collection and D. Drass, D. Acevedo, J. Cohuo, M. Yescas, as well as scientists from NOAA (United States), INAPESCA (Mexico), and ECOSUR (Mexico) that participated in the survey. We also thank W. Nagel for assistance with genetic analysis and D. Ahrenholz, J. Smith, P. Mararro, and M. Fonseca for assistance with manuscript review. Support and analyses for the cruise were partially funded by ECOSUR, the University of Miami-CIMAS, the NASA Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting program, and NOAA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lourdes Vásquez-Yeomans
    • 1
  • Laura Carrillo
    • 1
  • Selene Morales
    • 1
  • Estrella Malca
    • 2
  • James A. MorrisJr.
    • 3
  • Thomas Schultz
    • 4
  • John T. Lamkin
    • 5
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología y Sistemática AcuáticaEl Colegio de la Frontera SurChetumalMéxico
  2. 2.Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  3. 3.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean ScienceCenter for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat ResearchBeaufortUSA
  4. 4.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke University Marine LaboratoryBeaufortUSA
  5. 5.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National, Marine Fisheries ServiceSoutheast Fisheries Science CenterMiamiUSA

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