[Coral-List] Sharpnose Puffer

Douglas Fenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Sat Jan 3 12:03:12 EST 2009

    I probably should have said the adults are dark, not black.  Maybe other people can make out striations in adults, but they aren't easy for me to pick out here.
     There is a picture of the recruits in the Natural History Guide to American Samoa, which is in the references I had in my message, and is accessable via the web with the URL listed in my message.  The URL for the page showing the recruits is
The picture shows the lines as yellow, but I swear they are bright red.  The picture actually comes from Guam, maybe the lines are yellow there.  You can see faint striations in the picture of the adult, which is a brown or grey.  The adults I see here are darker than that picture, and the striations are at least that hard to see or more so.  My eyes are not as young or sharp as they once were, unfortunately.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: William Allison 
  To: Douglas Fenner 
  Cc: John Ogden ; Will Welbourn ; Alison Green ; Peter Doherty ; Peter Craig ; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov 
  Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 4:32 AM
  Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Sharpnose Puffer

  Hi Doug,

  I have seen in Maldives similar recruitment of C. striatus but the recruits resembled a flashy A. lineatus (with more intense colours) and the adults, although dark, are not black, and horizontal striations can be made out. I documented abundance of these for several months after settlement during which time attrition was rapid, especially in marginal habitat. I would like to see a picture of the recruits you describe.


  On Sat, Jan 3, 2009 at 1:49 AM, Douglas Fenner <dfenner at blueskynet.as> wrote:

    In American Samoa, there are mass recruitments in most years, particularly
    of the surgeonfish Ctenochaetus striatus, which is our most common adult
    reef fish.  They seem to come in several pulses each year, and when they
    show up they are on the order of 4-5 cm long.  The adults are black, but
    these new recruits have thin horizontal red lines on them.  Then at some
    point later on, they all change to black.  So you can tell when
    another recruitment pulse occurs, because suddenly you have more with red
    lines.  There are quite a few of them that settle in most years, but in a
    few years spectacular numbers settle, huge schools of perhaps hundreds of
    thousands have been reported, and if they are in your transect, they can
    dominate the biomass not to mention number of individuals (Ali Green
    observed such schools here, including in her transects in 2002).  After
    pulses, the numbers seem to go down steadily, but not really rapidly I would
    say, Peter Craig here has data on that.  If I remember, Ali Green saw in
    that huge pulse that many were in poor condition later, very thin, ragged
    fins, and so on (it's all in her report).  I've not seen any like that in
    normal years, mind you I haven't studied it specifically.
        I'd recommend a paper on the survival of new recruits in Tahiti- if I
    remember, 60% were lost in the first 24 hours.  They used a crest net to
    measure the recruitment each night, and daytime transects to record new
    recruits.  They then subtracts to measure the mortality each 24 hr.
    References below.
         American Samoa has also had mass recruitments of two species of
    rabbitfish in recent years, even though the adults here are quite uncommon.
    We're not sure where they are coming from.  They also recruit at roughly the
    same size as the surgeons.  There are also recruitment events of goatfish,
    and they are even larger, maybe around 10 cm or more when they settle.
    There is a
    traditional Samoan fishery for the newly settled goatfish, and a traditional
    basket woven as a fish trap used to collect them.  They have a name specific
    just for these goatfish recruits.  So Samoans have known about them for a
    long time, possibly for nearly the 3000 years people have been here.  They
    probably know a lot more useful information, too.
        And like many things on coral reefs, recruitment seems to be patchy in
    both space and time.
    -Doug Fenner

    Doherty, P. J., Dufour, V., Galzin, R. Hixon, M. A., Meekan, M. G., and S.
    Planes.  2004.  High mortality during settlement is a population bottleneck
    for a tropical surgeonfish.  Ecology 85: 2422-2428

    Almany, GR, Webster MS 2006.  The predation gauntlet: early post-settlement
    mortality in reef fishes.  Coral Reefs 25: 19-22

    Green, A.  2002.  Status of the coral reefs on the main volcanic islands of
    American Samoa: a resurvey of long term monitoring sites (benthic
    communities, fish communities, and key macroinvertebrates).  Report to DMWR.

    Craig, P.  2005.  Natural History Guide to American Samoa, 2nd Edition.
    National Park of American Samoa, Dept. Marine & Wildlife Resources, and
    American Samoa Community College, Pago Pago.  96 pages.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "John Ogden" <jogden at marine.usf.edu>
    To: "Will Welbourn" <will at bayislandsdiver.com>
    Cc: <Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
    Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 4:49 AM
    Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Sharpnose Puffer

    > Hi Will,
    > My guess is that sharpnose puffers have the same type of recruitment as
    > Bill Gladfelter and I observed for balloonfish (Diodon holocanthus) many
    > years ago in St. Croix.  The larvae are pelagic for a long larval life,
    > up to a year.  During this interval; they slowly gather into huge
    > schools of many thousands of individuals (about 3cm long) which then
    > recruit en mass to whatever coastal region is favorable within the time
    > frame of development.  The area then becomes completely flooded with
    > recruits which gradually disperse and are preyed upon.  You could call
    > this a sort of 17-year locust type of recruitment.
    > It would be interesting to see if others have observed this type of
    > recruitment which may be more common than we know.
    > Happy New Year!
    > Will Welbourn wrote:
    >> Hello
    >> I was wanting to post about the huge population increase I have noted in
    >> the
    >> waters of Roatan Honduras.  As a full time dive instructor here for the
    >> last
    >> five years the last six months I have observed an increase of 300-400% in
    >> the abundance of this fish.
    >> Anyone know why or what it may indicate?
    >> Regards
    >> Will Welbourn, Course Director and Director of Roatan Marine Park
    >> _______________________________________________

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