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