, Volume 71, Issue 8, pp 952–959 | Cite as

Translocations of tropical and subtropical marine fish species into the Mediterranean. A case study based on Siganus virgatus (Teleostei: Siganidae)

  • Harald AhneltEmail author
Section Zoology


About 160 exotic fish species are documented from the Mediterranean Sea (MED). A relatively small but rapidly increasing percentage of these non-indigenous species is represented by tropical or subtropical fishes which are naturally not distributed in a sea adjacent to the MED. The occurrence of these species is mainly ascribed to shipping traffic and aquarium trade as they are not able to actively arrive at the MED via the Suez Canal or the Strait of Gibraltar. During a survey of siganid fishes at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, a single specimen of the Barhead spinefoot, Siganus virgatus that had been captured in 1975 in the Adriatic Sea was found. It represents the first record of this species for the MED. It is also one of the earliest confirmed records of the introduction of a tropical fish species into the MED and an example of a drastically translocated species (DTS). Nearly all records of drastically translocated fish species (DTFS) were just published this century, although one record dates back to the 19th century. A rapid increase of such translocations into the MED has been observed since 2010. The rising water temperatures caused by climate change increases the probability that such species will establish self-sustaining populations in the MED. A first compilation of DTFS into the MED is presented. Characters distinguishing S. virgatus from the closely related sister species S. doliatus, as well as from the Lessepsian migrants S. luridus and S. rivulatus, are given.

Key words

Mediterranean Adriatic Sea drastic translocation aquarium release ballast water first record 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ben Rais Lasram F. & Mouillot D. 2009. Increasing southern invasions enhances congruence between endemic and exotic Mediterranean flash fauna. Biol. Invasions 11 (3): 697–711. DOI: Scholar
  2. Bianchi C.N. 2007. Biodiversity issues for the forthcoming tropical Mediterranean Sea. Hydrobiologia 580: 7–21. DOI: Scholar
  3. Bilecenoglu M. 2010. Alien marine fishes of Turkey - an updated review, pp. 189–217. In: Golani D. & Appelbaum-Golani B. (eds), Fish Invasions of the Mediterranean Sea: Change and Renewal, Pensoft Publishers, Sofla-Moscow, 332 pp. ISBN: 9546425265, 9789546425263Google Scholar
  4. Capapé C., Rafrafl-Nouira S., El Kamel-Moutalibi, Boumaïza M. & Reynaud C. 2015. First Mediterranean Records of spine-tail devil ray, Mobula japanica (Elasmobranchii: Rajiformes: Mobulidae). Acta Ichthyol. Piscat. 45 (2): 211–215. DOI: Scholar
  5. Coll M., Piroddi C., Steenbeek J., Kaschner K., Ben Rais Lasram F., J. Aguzzi, Ballesteros E., Bianchi C.N., Corbera J., Dailia-nis T., Danovaro R., Estrada M., Froglia C., Galil B.S., Gasol J.M., Gertwagen R., Gil J., Guilhaumon F., Kesner-Reyes K., Kitsos M.-S., Koukouras A., Lampadariou M., Laxamana E., Lopez-Fe de la Cuadra C.M., Lotze H.K., Martin D., Mouil-lot D., Oro D., Raicevich S., Ruis-Barile J., Saiz-Salinas J.I., San Vicente C., Somot S., Templado J., Turon X., Vafldis D., Villanueva R. & Voultsiadou E. 2010. The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: Estimates, patterns, and threats. PLoS One 5 (8): e11842. DOI: Scholar
  6. Dalyan C., Yemisken E., Erguden D., Turan C. & Eryilmaz L. 2014. First record of the Indian Ocean anchovy Stoleophrus insularis Hardenberg, 1933 from the northeastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. J. Appl. Ichthyol. 30 (5): 1039–1040. DOI: Scholar
  7. Deidun A. & Bonnici C. 2016. Yet an other flrst for Malta... flrst record of the Arabian angelflsh Pomacanthus as-fur (Forsskal, 1775) from the Mediterranean. 4. Malta, pp. 238–239. In: Karachle P.K., Angelidis A., Apostolopoulos G., Ayas D., Ballesteros M., Bonnici C., Brodersen M.M., Castriota L., Chalari N., Cottaldora J.M., Crocetta F., Deidun A., Dodo Z., Dogrammatzi A., Dulcic J., Fiorentiono F., Gonülal O., Harmelin J. G., Insacco G., Izquierdo-Gomez D., Izquierdo-Muńoz A., Joksimovic A., Kavadas S., Malaquias M.A.E., Madreńas E., Massi D., Micarelli P., Minchin D., Onal U., Ovalis P., Poursanidis D., Siapatis A., Sperone E., Spinelli A., Stamouli C., Tiralongo E., Tuncer S., Yaglioglu D., Zava B. & Zenetos A. New Mediterranean Biodiversity Records (March 2016). Medit. Mar. Sci. 17 (1): 230–252. DOI: Scholar
  8. Dor M. 1984. CLOFRES. Checklist of the Fishes of the Red Sea. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Jerusalem. xxii, 437 pp. ISBN: 9652080616Google Scholar
  9. Dulĉić J. & Ahnelt H., 2006. On the validity of the Bermuda sea chub Kyphosus sectator (Kyphosidae) from the Adriatic Sea. Period. Biol. 108 (2): 231–233.Google Scholar
  10. Dulĉić J. & Dragičević B. 2013a. Holacanthus cüiaris (Lin-naeus, 1758) (Teleostei: Pomacentridae), flrst record from the Mediterranean Sea. J. Appl. Ichthyol. 29 (2): 465–467. DOI: Scholar
  11. Dulĉić J. & Dragicčević, B. 2013b. Paranthias furcifer (Perci-formes: Serranidae), a new alien flsh in the Mediterranean Sea. J. Fish Biol. 82 (1): 332–337. DOI: Scholar
  12. Dulĉić J., Jardas I., Pallaoro A. & Lipej L. 2004. On the validity of the record of Silver pomfret Pampus argenteus (Stromatei-dae) from the Adriatic Sea. Cybium 28 (1): 69–71.Google Scholar
  13. Dulĉić J. & Kraljević M. 2007. On the record of seabream Pa-grus major (Temminck and Schlegel, 1843) (Osterichthyes: Sparidae) in the Adriatic Sea. Sci. Mar. 71 (1): 15–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Falzon M.- A. 2015. First record of the redlip blenny Ophioblen-nius atlanticas (Osteichthyes: Blenniidae) in the Mediterranean. Mar. Biodiv. Rec. 8: e80. DOI: Scholar
  15. Florentino F., Massi D. & Zava B. 2016. A new arrival of a circumtropical species in the Mediterranean: the Keeltail pomfret Taractes rubescens (Jordan & Everman, 1887) (Pisces, Bramidae), pp. 237–238. In: Karachle P.K., Angelidis A., Apostolopoulos G., Ayas D., Ballesteros M., Bonnici C.Google Scholar
  16. Brodersen M.M., Castriota L., Chalari N., Cottaldora J. M., Crocetta F., Deidun A., Dodo Z., Dogrammatzi A., Dulcic J., Fiorentiono F., Gonülal O., Harmelin J.G., Insacco G., Izquierdo-Gomez D., Izquierdo-Muńoz A., Joksimovic A., Kavadas S., Malaquias M.A.E., Madreńas E., Massi D., Micarelli P., Minchin D., Onal U., Ovalis P., Poursanidis D., Siapatis A., Sperone E., Spinelli A., Stamouli C., Tiralongo E., Tuncer S., Yaglioglu D., Zava B. & Zenetos A. New Mediterranean Biodiversity Records (March 2016). Medit. Mar. Sci. 17 (1): 230–252. DOI: Scholar
  17. Fricke R., Golani D. & Appelbaum-Golani B. 2015. First record of the Indian anchovy Stolephorus indicus (van Hasselt, 1823) (Clupeiformes: Engraulidae) in the Mediterranean Sea. Bioin-vasions Rec. 4 (4): 293–297. DOI: Scholar
  18. Froese R. & Pauly D. (eds). 2015. FishBase./ World Wide Web Electronic Publication. (ac-cessed 29.03.2016).Google Scholar
  19. Galil B. 2009. Taking stock: inventory of alien species in the Mediterranean Sea. Biol. Invasions 11 (2): 359–372. DOI: Scholar
  20. Galil B., Boero F., Fraschetti S., Piraino S., Campbell M., He-witt C., Carlton J., Cook E., Jelmert A., Macpherson E., Marchini A., Occhipinti-Ambrogi A., Mckenzie C., Minchin D., Ojaveer H., Olenin S. & Ruiz G. 2015. The enlargement of the Suez Canal and introduction of non-indigenous species to the Mediterranean Sea. Limnol. Oceanogr. Bull. 24 (2): 43–45. DOI: Scholar
  21. Galil B., Marchini A., Occhipinti-Ambrogi A., Minchin D., Narscius A., Ojaveer H. & Olenin S. 2014. International ar-rivals: widespread bioinvasions in European Seas. Ethol. Ecol. Evol. 26 (2-3): 152–171. DOI: Scholar
  22. Golani D., Askarov G. & Dashevsky Y. 2015. First record of the Red Sea spotted grouper, Epinephelus geoffroyi (Klunzinger, 1870) (Serranidae) in the Mediterranean. Bioinvasions Rec. 4 (2): 143–145. DOI: doi: Scholar
  23. Golani D. & Bogorodsky S.V. 2010. The fishes of the red Sea -reappraisal and updated checklist. Zootaxa 2463: 1–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Golani D., Fricke R. & Appelbaum-Golani B. 2011. First record of the Indo-Paciflc slender ponyflsh Equulites elongatus (Günther, 1874) (Perciformes: Leiognathidae) in the Mediterranean. Aquat. Invasions 6 (Suppl. 1): S75–S77. DOI: Scholar
  25. Golani D., Massutí E., Orsi-Relini L., Quignard J.P., Dulĉić J. & Azzurro E. 2016. CIESM Atlas of Exotic Species in the Mediterranean. Vol. 1 - Fishes, 256 pp. ISBN13: 978-92-990003-1-1. Updated version available at (accessed 31.03.2016)Google Scholar
  26. Golani D., Sonin O. & Rubinstein G. 2015. Records of Par-alichthys lethostigma and Sciaenops ocellatus in the Mediterranean and Channa micropeltes in Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Israel. Mar. Biodiv. Rec. 8: e39. DOI: Scholar
  27. Goren M. & Dor M. 1994. An updated checklist of the fishes of the Red Sea CLOFRES II. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem. xii, 120 pp. ISBN: 9652081140, 9789652081148Google Scholar
  28. Goren M. & Galil B.S. 2005. A review of changes in the flsh assem-blages of Levantine inland and marine ecosystems following the introduction of non-native fishes. J. Appl. Ichthyol. 21 (4): 364–370. DOI: Scholar
  29. Goren M., Gayer K. & Lazarus N. 2009. First record of the Far East chameleon goby Tridentiger trigonocephalus (Gili, 1859) in the Mediterranean Sea. Aquat. Invasions 4 (2): 413–415. DOI: Scholar
  30. Gokoglu M., Ozvarol J. & Fricke R. 2015. Synchiropus sechellen-sis Regan, 1908 (Teleostei: Callionymidae), a new Lessepsian migrant in the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 15 (2): 440–442. DOI: Scholar
  31. Guidetti P., Magnani L. & Navone A. 2016. First record of the acanthuroid flsh Zebrasoma xanthurum (Blyth, 1852) in the Mediterranean Sea, with some considerations on the risk as-sociated with aquarium trade. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 17 (1): 147–151. DOI: Scholar
  32. Hanel L., Plesník J., Andreska J., Lusk S., Novák J. & Plíštil J. 2011. Alien flshes in European waters. Nepůvodní druhy ryb v evropskych vodách. Bull. Lampetra 7: 148–185.Google Scholar
  33. Ibrahim A., Lahlah M., Kassab M.Y., Ghanem W. & Ogaily S. 2010. Siganus javus, a new record from Syrian waters, with reference to growth & feeding of two Lessepsian flash. Rapp. Comm. Int. Mer. Medit. 39: 544.Google Scholar
  34. Inoue T. & Nakabo T. 2006. The Saurida undosquamis group (Aulopiformes: Synodontidae), with description of a new species from southern Japan. Ichthyol. Res. 53 (4): 379–397. DOI: Scholar
  35. Katsavnevakis S., Coll M., Proddi C., Steenbeek J., Ben Rais Lasram R., Zenetos A. & Cardoso A.C. 2014. Invading the Mediterranean Sea: biodiversity patterns shaped by human activities. Front. Mar. Sci. 1: Article 32. DOI:
  36. Langeneck J., Boyer M., De Ceceo P.G., Luciani C., Mar-celli M. & Vacchi M. 2015. First record of Acanthu-rus chirurgus (Perciformes: Acanthuridae) in the Mediterranean Sea, with some distributional notes on Mediterranean Acanthuridae. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 16 (2): 427–432. DOI: Scholar
  37. Langeneck J., Marcelli M. & Simak H.C. 2012. Unexpected alien species in Cyprus waters: Acanthurus coeruleus (Actino-pterygii: Acanthuridae). Mar. Biodiv. Rec. 5: e116. DOI: Scholar
  38. Leis J.L., Matsuura K., Shao K.-T., Hardy G., Zapfe G., Liu M., Jing L., Robertson R. & Tyler J. 2015. Lactophrys triqueter. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T190363A1949373. DOI:
  39. Lelong P. 2005. Capture of a honeycomb groupe, Epinephelus merra Bloch, 1793 (Pisces, Serranidae), in Northwestern Mediterranean Sea (in France). Mar. Life 15 (1-2): 63–66.Google Scholar
  40. Lipej L., Mavrič B. & Dulĉić J., 2014. First record of Chrysiptero, cyanea (Quoy and Gaimard, 1825) (Perciformes: Pomacen-tridae) in the Mediterranean Sea. J. Appl. Ichthyol. 30 (5): 1053–1055. DOI: Scholar
  41. Maceda-Veiga A., Escribano-Alcid J., de Sostoa A. & Garcia-Berthou E. 2013. The aquarium trade as a potential source of flsh introductions in southwestern Europe. Biol. Invasions 15 (12): 2707–2716. DOI: Scholar
  42. Mahmoud H.H., Altaf E.A. & Ibrahim M.A. 2009. Fisheries status of Halaieb / Shalatien area “Red Sea”, Egypt. Egypt. J. Aquat. Res. 35 (3): 1–19.Google Scholar
  43. Mastrototaro F., Carlucci R., Capezzuto F. & Sion L. 2007. First record of dwarf flathead Elates ransonnettii (Platycephali-dae) in the Mediterranean Sea (North-Western Ionian Sea). Cybium 31 (3): 393–394.Google Scholar
  44. Matsuura K. 2015. Taxonomy and systematics of tetraodontif-orm flshes: a review focusing primarily on progress in the pe-riod from 1980 to 2014. Ichthyol. Res. 62 (1): 72–113. DOI: Scholar
  45. Oral M. 2010. Alien flsh species in the Mediterranean - Black Sea Basin. J. Black Sea-Mediterr. Environ. 16 (1): 87–132.Google Scholar
  46. Orsi Relini L. 2002. Occurrence of the South American flsh Pin-guipes brasüianus (Pinguipedidae) in the Mediterranean. Cybium 26 (2): 147–149.Google Scholar
  47. Orsi Relini L. & Lanteri L. 2009. Un pesce alieno, a Genova, un secolo fa [An alien flsh, one century ago, in Genoa]. Biol. Mar. Mediterr. 16 (1): 348–349.Google Scholar
  48. Otero M., Cebrian E., Francour E.P., Galil B. & Savini D. 2013. Monitoring marine invasive species in Mediterranean marine protected areas (MPAs): A strategy and practical guide for managers. IUCN, Malaga, Spain, 136 pp. ISBN: 979-2-8317-1615-2Google Scholar
  49. Özbek E.Ö., Özkaya M., Öztürk B. & Golani D. 2014. First record of the blenny Parablennius thysianus (Jordan & Seale, 1907) in the Mediterranean. J. Black Sea-Mediterr. Environ. 20 (1): 53–59.Google Scholar
  50. Papavlasopoulou I., Vardakas L., Perdikaris C., Kommatas D. & Paschos I. 2013. Ornamental flsh in pet stores in Greece: a threat to biodiversity? Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 15 (1): 126–134. DOI: Scholar
  51. Parona C. 1909. Esistono gli Ostracionidi nel Mediterraneo? A proposito del rinvenimento di un Ostracion triqueter Lin. Nelle acque del Porto di Genova. Atti della Societa Ligus-tica di Scienze Naturali e Geografia 20: 49–57.Google Scholar
  52. Psomadakis P.N., Giustino S. & Vacchi M. 2012. Mediterranean fish biodiversity: an updated inventory with focus on the Lig-urian and Tyrrhenian seas. Zootaxa 3263: 1–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Raitsos D.E., Beaugrand G., Georgopoulos D., Zenetos A., Pancucci-Papadopoulou A.M., Theocharis A. & Papathanas-siou E. 2010. Global climate change amplifies the entry of tropical species into the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Lim-nol. Oceanogr. 55 (4): 1478–1484. DOI: Scholar
  54. Rilov G. & Galil B. 2009. Marine Bioinvasions in the Mediterranean Sea - History, Distribution and Ecology, pp. 549–575, DOI: In: Rilov G. & Crooks J.A. (eds), Biological Invasions in Marine Ecosystems, Eco-logical Studies 204, 641 pp. ISBN: 978-3-540-79235-2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rothman S.B.S. & Goren M. 2015. First record of the Red Sea shrimp-goby Cryptocentrus caeruleopunctatus in the Mediterranean Sea. Mar. Biodiv. Rec. 8: e157. DOI: Scholar
  56. Salameh P., Sonin O. & Golani D. 2010. First record of the bur-rowing goby, Trypauchen vagina (Actinopterygii: Gobiidae: Amblyopinae), in the Mediterranean. Acta Ichthyol. Pise. 40 (2): 109–111. DOI: Scholar
  57. Schembri P.J., Bodilis P., Evans J. & Francour P. 2010. Occurrence of barred knifejaw, Opleganthus fasciatus (Actinopterygii: Perciformes: Opleganthidae), in Malta (Central Mediterranean) with a discussion on possible mode of entry. Acta Ichthyol. Pise. 40 (2): 101–104. DOI: Scholar
  58. Stern N. & Goren M. 2013. First record of the moray eel Gym-nothorax reticularis, Bloch, 1795 in the Mediterranean Sea, with a note on its taxonomy and distribution. Zootaxa 3641 (2): 197–200. DOI: Scholar
  59. Stern N., Rinkevich B. & Goren M. 2015. First record of the Goldstripe sardinella - Sardinella gibbosa (Bleeker, 1849) in the Mediterranean Sea and confirmation for its pres-ence in the Red Sea. Bioinvasions Rec 4 (1): 47–51. DOI: Scholar
  60. Sulak K.J. 1984. Synodontidae (including Macristiidae and Bathysauridae), pp. 405–411. In: Whitehead P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau J.-C, Nielsen J. & Tortonese E. (eds), Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I., UNESCO, Richard Clay Ltd., Bungay, 510 pp. ISBN: 92-3-002215-2, 002611-5Google Scholar
  61. Weitzmann B., Mercader L. & Azzurro E. 2015. First sighting of Zebrasoma flavescens (Teleostei: Acanthuridae) and Bal-istoides conspicillum, (Teleostei: Balistidae) in the Mediterranean Sea: Two likely aquarium releases. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 16 (1): 147–150. DOI: Scholar
  62. Wonham M.J., Carlton J.T., Ruizand G.M. & Smith L.D. 2000. Fish and ships: relating dispersal frequeney to success in biological invasions. Mar. Biol. 136 (6): 1111–1121. DOI: Scholar
  63. Woodland D.J. 1990. Revision of the fish family Siganidae with descriptions of two new species and comments on distribution and biology Indo-Pacific Fishes 19: 1–136. ISBN: 0646116657Google Scholar
  64. Zammit E. and Schembri P.J. 2011. An overlooked and unexpected introduction? Occurrence of the spotted scat Scato-phagus argus (Linnaeus, 1766) (Osteichthyes: Scathophagi-dae) in the Maltese Islands. Aquat. Invasions 6 (Suppl. 1): S79–S83. DOI: Scholar
  65. Zenetos S., Gofas S., Morri C., Rosso A., Violantil D., Garcia Raso J.E., Cinar M.E., Almogi-Labin A., Ates A.S., Azzurro E., Ballesteros E., Bianchi C.N., Bilecenoglu M., Gambi M.C., Giangrande A., Gravili C., Hyams-Kapphzan O., Karachale P.K., Katsanevakis S., Lipej L., Mastrototaro F., Mineur F., Pancucci-Papadopoulou M.A., Ramos Espia A., Salas C., San Martin G., Sfirso S., Streftaris N. & Verlaque M. 2012. Alien species in the Mediterranean Sea by 2012. A contribution to the application of European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Part 2. Introduction trends and pathways. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 13 (2): 328–352. DOI: Scholar
  66. Zenetos A., Gofas S., Verlaque M., Cinar M.E., Garcia Raso J.E., Bianchi C.N., Morri C., Azzurro E., Bilecenoglu M., Froglia C., Sokou I., Violanti D., Sfriso A., San Martin G., Giangrande A., Katagan T., Ballesteros E., Ramos-Espia A., Mastrototaro F., Ocana O., Zingone A., Gambi M.C. & Streftaris N. 2010. Alien species in the Mediterranean Sea by 2010. A contribution to the application of European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Part I. Spatial distribution. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 11 (2): 381–493. DOI: Scholar

Copyright information

© Slovak Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theoretical BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Vertebrate ZoologyNatural History Museum in ViennaViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations