First record of the basslet Gramma dejongi outside of Cuba

The basslet Gramma dejongi, a recently discovered sibling species to the fairy basslet (G. loreto), was regarded as endemic to Cuba (Victor and Randall 2010). Here we report the first documented sightings of G. dejongi at Little Cayman Island. The Cayman Islands are located on an oceanic ridge that extends southwest from the Sierra Maestra Mountains in southeastern Cuba. Situated approximately 220 km due south of Cuba, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are the closest islands to the town of Trinidad, where G. dejongi was first reported (Victor and Randall 2010). A single G. dejongi individual (Fig. 1) was first sighted in July 2013 among a group of G. loreto (Fig. 2) and was visually identified by comparing its morphology and coloration to those described by Victor and Randall (2010).

Fig. 1

Gramma dejongi individual at Little Cayman

Fig. 2

Gramma dejongi individual among several G. loreto individuals at Little Cayman

The Little Cayman specimen was 60 mm in total length, exceeding the maximum size reported for the species (i.e., 45 mm, Victor and Randall 2010). The individual was found at 18 m on a spur-and-groove formation 1.5 km east of the Bloody Bay Marine Park. We located the same G. dejongi individual in August 2013 at the exact site where it was first observed, suggesting the species is highly site-attached. Like G. loreto, the Little Cayman G. dejongi specimen was repeatedly observed upside down. Our observations indicate that second-hand reports of smaller size and vertical-swimming behavior in the original description of G. dejongi may not be diagnostic (Victor and Randall 2010).

The discovery of a single G. dejongi individual in the Cayman Islands does not imply that large-scale recruitment of the species has occurred in the area. However, sighting G. dejongi outside of Cuba does suggest that the species is capable of dispersing pelagically to nearby islands.


  1. Victor BC, Randall JE (2010) Gramma dejongi, a new basslet (Perciformes: Grammatidae) from Cuba, a sympatric sibling species of G. loreto. Zool Stud 49(6):865–871

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The authors would like to thank S. Bejarano for her insightful comments.

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Correspondence to K. E. Lohr.

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Lohr, K.E., Camp, E.F. & Manfrino, C. First record of the basslet Gramma dejongi outside of Cuba. Coral Reefs 33, 221 (2014).

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  • Maximum Size
  • Original Description
  • Sibling Species
  • Oceanic Ridge
  • Trinidad