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Gymnothorax spp. (Muraenidae) as natural predators of the lionfish Pterois miles in its native biogeographical range


Lionfish (Pterois miles) were observed avoiding coral pinnacles inhabited by the moray eels Gymnothorax flavimarginatus and G. javanicus in the northern Red Sea, Egypt. Release of lionfish (Standard Length 93–104 mm) in such coral pinnacles in November 2016 resulted in almost immediate predation by large moray eels (Total Length > 1 m). Predation by moray eels may be the key control mechanism of population growth in the native biogeographical range of Pterois spp. and may indirectly explain the success of the invasive populations. This is the first video-documented record of moray eels feeding on the lionfish P. miles.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. Two anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments to improve the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Arthur R. Bos.

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Individual of Gymnothorax flavimarginatus preying on a lionfish Pterois miles on 25 November 2016 in a coral reef off Hurghada, Egypt, Red Sea (MP4 112027 kb)


Individual of Gymnothorax javanicus preying on a lionfish Pterois miles on 25 November 2016 in a coral reef off Hurghada, Egypt, Red Sea (MP4 121004 kb)

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Bos, A.R., Sanad, A.M. & Elsayed, K. Gymnothorax spp. (Muraenidae) as natural predators of the lionfish Pterois miles in its native biogeographical range. Environ Biol Fish 100, 745–748 (2017).

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  • Moray eel
  • Predation
  • Pterois
  • Red Sea
  • Scorpaenidae