Fish bite marks

Fernando A. Zapata R fazr at
Mon Mar 2 17:16:50 EST 1998

Dear Coral-list members:

    Massive corals (mostly Pavona sp.) from Gorgona Island, off the
Pacific coast of Colombia, frequently have many markings that we believe
have been caused by fish. The marks are more or less rectangular, about
1.0 - 1.5 x 3.0 - 4.0 cm, are devoid of live coral tissue, and are
therefore white, contrasting with the adjacent live, healthy tissue. We
have tried to establish the identity of the fish(es) responsible for
making these marks, but after several hours of observation of colonies
we have been unable to watch any fish actually biting the colonies. We
suspect that either scarids, balistids or tetraodontids are making these
marks. We have made observations of feeding behavior by a scarid (Scarus
ghobban, n = 67 periods of  ten min each) and two balistids (Sufflamen
verres and Pseudobalistes naufragium, n = 21) but have never seen a fish
biting the colonies and leaving a mark as described.

    We are wondering if other people in the tropical eastern Pacific (or
elsewhere) are familiar with these bite marks. If they are, would they
know what species is making the marks? Finally, would anyone be
interested in taking a look at a couple of pictures and trying to help
us? If so, please reply to this message and we will send the pictures as
an attachment to an e-mail.


Juan Manuel Jimenez
Valeria Francisco
Fernando A. Zapata
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