The family Rhincomeridae, belongs to the subclass Holocephali, order Chimaeriformes, commonly known as the longnose chimaera. Longnose chimaeras are small to medium chondrichthyans with a broad head and elongated spear-like snout. Currently, Rhincomeridae is represented by three genera: Harriota Goode and Bean 1895, Neoharriotta Bigelow and Schroeder 1950, and Rhinochimaera Garman 1901. Species of Neoharriota are distinguished from Harriota by the possession of a prominent anal fin. Neoharriota species are represented by: N. pinnata, Schnakenbeck 1931, which appear to be restricted to the eastern Atlantic, off the western coast of Africa, N. pumila, Didier and Stehmann 1996, presently known only from the northwestern Indian Ocean and N. carri with known occurrence in the upper and mid continental slopes in the Southern Caribbean (219–458 m depth range) (Bullis and Carpenter 1966).

Globally, Chimaeroids are captured incidentally in commercial, recreational and artisanal fisheries (Barnett et al. 2012). Despite captures, few data exist regarding their population status; the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists 16 out of 35 chimaera species as data deficient (IUCN 2011). During February 2015 and January 2016, while conducting landings verification of elasmobranchs in Quetzalito, a fishing village on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast, two specimens of the chimaera Neoharriota carri were collected, with the 2016 specimen was being preserved for further examination.


On 14th February 2015 and 30th January 2016, two chimaera specimens were captured by artisanal fishermen of El Quetzalito, Izabal (Fig. 1). According to the fisherman, both specimens were captured approx. 16 Km from El Quetzalito, Izabal, Guatemala (15° 52.374 N, 88° 18.712 W), approximately 240 m depth, with a 1000 m bottom trammel net of 3.5 in. mesh size and one panel. Images of the 2015 specimen as well as total length (TL) and sex were recorded for the captured chimaera in 2015. The specimen captured in 2016 was kept on ice and later preserved in formaldehyde (10%) for 3 weeks before finally being transferred to ethyl alcohol (70%) and donated to the Laboratory of Biological Science and Oceanography, Centro de Estudios del Mar y Acuicultura (CEMA) of the Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC). The specimen is part of the collection registered to the Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas (CONAP) under the reference number 162.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Study area with locations of capture in relation to the fishing village of El Quetzalito

The 2016 specimen was measured using a ruler and measuring tape. A total of 46 measurements were taken (Table 1) as proposed by Compagno et al. (1990) and Bullis and Carpenter (1966). Specimen examination and species confirmation were based on Didier (2002) and Bullis and Carpenter (1966).

Table 1 Measurements of preserved Neoharriota carri landed in El Quetzalito, Guatemala on January 2016


Systematic account

Family: Rhinochimaeridae Garman, 1901

Genus: Neoharriotta Bigelow and Schroeder, 1950

Neoharriotta carri Bullis and Carpenter 1966

Common name: Dwarf sicklefin chimaera; Quimera pálida con hocico largo (Spanish), tiburón elefante (local name).

Material examined

2015 specimen, male 730 mm TL (Fig. 2). 2016 specimen, female, 880 mm TL, 349 mm body length (BDL) (Table 1, Fig. 3).

Fig. 2
figure 2

Chimaera specimen collected near El Quetzalito, in Guatemala (February 2015), male, 730 mm TL (a. lateral view, b. dorsal view)

Fig. 3
figure 3

Neoharriota carri (Bullis and Carpenter 1966) collected near El Quetzalito, in Guatemala (January 2016), female, 860 mm TL, 349 mm BDL, (A- lateral view; B-dorsal view)


2016 specimen: Medium to large. Snout elongated and pointed. Caudal fin axis weakly raised, prominent anal fin present and is separated from ventral caudal lobe. Caudal filament broken off. Pectoral and pelvic fins are triangular in shape, darker in color than the body. First dorsal fin is preceded by a spine. Second dorsal fin base terminates immediately above and slightly anterior to anal fin origin.

For the 2015 specimens, photographs were taken by the fishermen for evidence (Fig. 2), but no specimen was kept for preservation or further identification. Based on the fisherman’s report and on images taken with known reference lengths, this specimen was male with a 730 mm TL, presumed mature due to clasper formation and size (Dagit 2006).

A year later, in January 2016, the same fisherman collected a new specimen: a female chimaera, 880 mm TL (Fig. 3). This specimen was identified as Neoharriota carri and according to size at sexual maturity (Dagit 2006), this organism was also presumed to be sexually mature.


N. carri was first described by Bullis and Carpenter (1966), who described a female holotype of 428 mm TL, collected in Panama. In Colombia, Acero (1998) reported the occurrence of two individuals, 1 female 640 mm TL and 1 male 820 mm TL. N. carri has also been reported in Venezuela (Dagit 2006). Benavides et al. (2014), recorded N. carri while using bottom trawling nets in Costa Rica. During these surveys in Costa Rica, the authors collected a large number of specimens, 31 males (285–545 mm TL) and 31 females (285–545 mm TL), all presumed sexually immature per Dagit (2006). According to Acero (1998), the maximum size reported for this species is 820 mm TL. The 2016 specimen described here is therefore the largest specimen on record (880 mm TL).

To date fishers report catching at least 10 additional N. carri specimens near the actual coordinates at which the specimens were found. There is no reported seasonal variance in the captures of this species. Captured N. carri are generally released at sea, but if landed, are neither corned and/or consumed as is customary with other chondrichthyan species.


The importance of the present records resides in the fact that they represent the first record of N. carri for Guatemala and a significant range extension and northernmost report in the Western Atlantic. No targeted fisheries exist for this species, and captures represent bycatch from traditional small-scale finfish and elasmobranch fisheries.