Harmful Fish Group

  • Laith A. Jawad
Chapter

Abstract

Human injuries by the needlefish are attributable to its ability to leap out of the water at high speeds. Injury occurs via impalement of the needlefish beak. The injury produces a puncture wound, similar to a stab wound, often with the beak intact. Cases of human injuries caused by these fishes happened to the head, trunk, and legs. Needlefish injuries to humans are common worldwide and such injuries can be hazardous.

The members of the family Acanthuridae are considered harmful fishes. They are characterised by the presence of conspicuous external spines and plates laterally near the basis of the caudal peduncle. There may be a single, sharp, mobile spine on each side, one or two immobile bony plates, or up to ten peduncular keels. These caudal spines or keels have been recognised as a framework being used both in intra- and interspecific interactions. In addition to the physical harm of these spines, there are indications that the sting of their spine is toxic. There is a special mechanism of movements of mobile spines which is not found in any other fish group.

In the present chapter, an account of the harmful fish species, needlefish and surgeonfish, is given. In this account the identification, distribution, habitat, biology, economic value, and conservation status of each species were provided. Several cases, both fatal and nonfatal, of needlefish attack were presented. The cuts caused by surgeonfish were described.

3.1 Needlefish

  • Order: Beloniformes

  • Family: Belonidae

  • Strongylura leiura (Bleeker 1850)

  • Common name: Banded needlefish

  • Arabic name: سمكة المخيط المخططه

  • Etymology: Strongylura : Greek, strongylos = round + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.1)

Fig. 3.1

Banded needlefish, Strongylura   leiura (Bleeker, 1850). Courtesy of Hamid Osmany, Pakistan

Identification

  • Compressed long body.

  • Both jaws elongated and equipped with sharp teeth.

  • No gillrakers.

  • Fins without spines. Shape of anterior part of dorsal and anal fin lobe-shaped. Pectoral fin narrow. No lateral keel on caudal peduncle. Caudal fin emarginate, not deeply forked. Both dorsal and anal fins have scutes on their bases.

  • Top of head and back greenish with silver stripe along sides widening posteriorly. White ventral side. Pelvic fins white. Dark spots on pectoral fins with tip of fins yellow. Tips of dorsal and anal fin lobes yellowish. Caudal fin dark with a yellowish colour on the upper lobe (Fischer and Bianchi 1984).

World Distribution

The distribution of this needlefish is confined to the Indo-Pacific region. It is found in Somalia, Tanzania, South Africa, and eastward to Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and southeast Asia and New Guinea, Australia, and the Philippines. It is also reported from southern China (Collette 1984: 1086; Sommer et al. 1996).

Distribution in the Study Area

Fischer and Bianchi (1984) and Randall (1995) reported this species to be present in the entire Arabian-Persian Gulf area and the Iranian side of the Sea of Oman. On the other hand, Froese and Pauly (2016) have suggested that it is found only in the Arabian Sea coasts of Oman. Manilo and Bogorodsky (2003) have reported it from the southern Arabian Peninsula at the coasts of both Oman and Yemen.

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species, enters brackish waters, and is sometimes found in association with reefs (Reide 2004).

Biology

The larvae of this species is usually found in mangroves (Jeyaseelan 1998). It is an oviparous fish and eggs are found attached to objects in waters by tendrils on the egg’s surface (Breder and Rosen 1966). The relation to humans is discussed in a special section below.

Economic Value

This species is considered an important fish commodity as its meat is considered delicious and most valuable for people taking it along its geographical distribution.

Conservation Status

Not evaluated.
  • Strongylura strongylura (van Hasselt 1823)

  • Common name: Spottail needlefish

  • Arabic name: سمكة المخيط منقطة الذنب

  • Etymology: Strongylura : Greek, strongylos = round + Greek, oura = tail (Figs. 3.2 and 3.3)

Fig. 3.2

Spottail needlefish, Strongylura   strongylura (van Hasselt, 1823). Courtesy of Ratmuangkhwang, Sahat, Thailand

Fig. 3.3

Spottail needlefish, Strongylura   strongylura (van Hasselt, 1823). Courtesy of M.P. Remesan, India

Identification

  • Body elongated.

  • No gillrakers.

  • No spines in fins. Dorsal and anal fins with lobe-shape anterior sides. Narrow pectoral fins. No lateral keel on caudal peduncle. Caudal fin rounded or truncate and not forked.

  • Body greenish above, silvery laterally, and white ventrally. Pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins white. Pigmentation on middle rays of dorsal and anal fins. Round black spot on base of caudal fin. Anterior margin of anal fin orange (Fischer and Bianchi 1984).

World Distribution

The distribution of this species is confined to the Indo-Pacific region and is found in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and southern China, the Philippines, and north Australia (Froese and Pauly 2015).

Distribution in the Study Area

This species is reported from all the countries of the Arabian-Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, and the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula (Fischer and Bianchi 1984; Randall 1995; Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003).

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species entering brackish waters and living in depth range 10–13 m (Froese and Pauly 2016).

Biology

Individuals of this species are oviparous (Blaber 1980) and eggs are found attached to objects in the water (Breder and Rosen 1966). The human interaction with this species is given in a separate section below.

Economic Value

The meat of this fish has high commercial value in countries along its geographical distribution.

Conservation Status

Not evaluated.
  • Tylosurus acus melanotus (Bleeker 1850)

  • Common name: Keel-jawed needlefish

  • Arabic name: سمكة المخيط صلبة الأسنان

  • Etymology: Tylosurus : Greek, tylos = callus + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.4)

Fig. 3.4

Keel-jawed needle fish, Tylosurus   acus melanotus (Bleeker, 1850). Courtesy of Hiroyuki Motomura, Japan

Identification

  • Body elongate .

  • Both jaws elongated and equipped with sharp teeth. Lower jaw with an obvious appendage.

  • No gillrakers.

  • No spines in fins. Dorsal and anal fins with lobe-shaped anterior side. Pectoral and pelvic fins short. Caudal peduncle with small black lateral keel. Caudal fin deeply forked with lower lobe much longer than upper.

  • Body dark bluish above, silvery white below (Fischer and Bianchi 1984).

World Distribution

In the Indo-Pacific region, it is reported from East Africa to the central, south, and east central Pacific (Collette 1984).

Distribution in the Study Area

Fischer and Bianchi (1984) have reported that this species is found on the coasts of the Arabian-Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula. On the other hand, Froese and Pauly (2016) reported it to be found on the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula at the coasts of Oman and not in the other two seas. Manilo and Bogorodsky (2003) have recorded it from the Arabian Sea coasts of Yemen and Oman.

Habitat and Ecological Role

It is a marine species and enters both freshwater and brackish. It is found living in association with reefs. It lives at depth 0–1 m (Reide 2004; Mundy 2005).

Biology

Individuals of this species are oviparous and eggs may be found attached to objects in waters by thread-like structures found on the surface of the egg (Breder and Rosen 1966). The human interaction with this species is dealt with in a section given below.

Economic Value

The meat of this species as with other needlefish species is delicious with high commercial value in all countries at its geographical distribution.

Conservation Status

Not evaluated.
  • Tylosurus choram (Rüppell 1837)

  • Common name: Red Sea hound fish

  • Arabic name: سمكة مخيط البحر الأحمر

  • Etymology: Tylosurus : Greek, tylos = callus + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.5)

Fig. 3.5

Red Sea hound fish, Tylosurus   choram (Rüppell, 1837). Courtesy of Robert Patzner, Austria

Identification

  • Body elongated.

  • No gill rakers.

  • Both jaws long and straight with straight and strong teeth.

  • Caudal peduncle with poorly developed keel at posterior end. Emarginate caudal fin with lower lobe longer than upper. Dorsal and anal fins with elevated anterior side.

  • Body with green colour on back, silvery on sides and abdomen (Randall 1995).

World Distribution

The distribution of this species is confined to the western Indian Ocean. It is also found in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (Froese and Pauly 2016).

Distribution in the Study Area

This species is absent from the Arabian-Persian gulf and the sea of Oman. Manilo and Bogorodsky (2003) have reported this species from the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula in Yemeni waters and Randall (1995) and Froese and Pauly (2016) have recorded it from the Omani coasts of the Arabian Sea.

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species with pelagic-oceanic habitat (Froese and Pauly 2016).

Biology

Females of this species are oviparous and as in other needlefish species, eggs are found attached to objects in the water by thread found on their surface (Breder and Rosen 1966). Human interaction with this species is given in a section below.

Economic Value

This species is taken for its delicious meat and considered among the most high-commercial value species in the area where it is distributed.

Conservation Status

Not evaluated.
  • Tylosurus crocodilus (Péron and Lesueur 1821)

  • Common name: Hound needlefish

  • Arabic name: سمكة المخيط التمساح

  • Etymology: Tylosurus : Greek, tylos = callus + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.6)

Fig. 3.6

Hound needlefish, Tylosurus   crocodilus (Péron & Lesueur, 1821). Courtesy of Hiroyuki Motomura, Japan

Identification

  • Long body with elongated jaws equipped with sharp teeth.

  • No gillrakers and no spines in fins.

  • Dorsal and anal fins lobe-shaped at anterior sides. Long pectoral and pelvic fins. Caudal peduncle with a small black lateral keel. Deeply forked caudal fin with lower lobe much longer than upper.

  • Body dark bluish to green above and silvery below with dark blue stripe along sides. Scales and bones green (Fischer and Bianchi 1984).

World Distribution

This species is distributed in several localities in the Indo-West Pacific and western and eastern Atlantic (Randall and Sinoto 1978; Masuda et al. 1984; Collette 1986; Robins and Ray 1986; Collette and Parin 1990; Diouf 1996; Fricke 1999).

Distribution in the Study Area

This species is recorded from the Arabian-Persian Gulf in Iranian waters only (Assadi and Dehghani 1997). It is also reported from the Sea of Oman in Omani waters (Randall 1995) and from the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula in the waters of Yemen and Oman (Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003).

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species found in reef areas and having an oceanodromous habit. It lives at depth range from the surface down to 13 m (Reide 2004; Mundy 2005).

Biology

It lives either in groups or solitary. Females are oviparous and eggs are found attached to objects in waters (Breder and Rosen 1966; Claro 1994; Thollot 1996). The human interaction of this species is given in a section below.

Economic Value

The meat of this species has a high commercial value.

Conservation Status

Not evaluated.

3.1.1 Injuries Caused by Needlefishes

Needlefish live near the surface of the water and are able to jump outside the water at speeds of 60 km h−1. In most cases they land on the deck of a shallow boat rather than in the water again. Artificial light during night or when dark evokes needlefish to jump. Usually, the night fishers are their victims and get hit by very fast fish with strong and sharp beaks (Scott 1996).

The description of the following cases from around the world gives an idea about how dangerous the species of the family Belonidae are. The species of this family described above might be involved in such incidents in all the areas at the east and southern Arabian peninsula.

The number of injuries of humans by needlefish is not many, but they affect many parts of the human body with some of them fatal. The injuries can be in the head region (i.e., in the orbit, maxilla, ear, and brain); in the neck; in the thorax (i.e., in the heart); in the abdomen; in the knee; in feet; and in the buttocks. The attack of the needlefish can cause facial analysis and concoction.

Fatal Incidents

Among the fatal cases is the attack on the eye and brain. McCabe et al. (1978) reported on a case where a 10-year-old Hawaiian boy faced a needlefish attack while he was fishing with his father on a boat when a 36–48 cm long fish jumped from the water, hitting the boy in the right eye. On admission to hospital he was found to be comatose, with flaccid paralysis involving the right side of the body. The wound caused by the hit of the fish was about 8 mm long. Later, the patient showed evidence of cerebral infarction and a small left subdural hematoma. After 10 days the boy died as a result of brain damage.

Barss (1982) reported three fatal cases due to the attack of needlefish on people fishing on a boat. In all these cases, the attack happened to the thorax. In one of these cases, the fisher caught the fish, and the fish hit him in the chest. In one of the other two cases, the fisher caught one needlefish and another one pierced his chest. In the third case the fisher died when a needlefish attacked him in the chest.

Deutsche Press (2007) carried news about a 16-year-old Vietnamese boy who died as a result of an attack by a 150 mm long needlefish. The boy was diving for sea cucumber. The boy’s diving friends assisted him in pulling the needlefish snout out of the boy’s chest. After the stab to his heart the boy died before reaching the hospital.

Nawasiwatte et al. (2014) reported the case of a 41-year-old Maldivian professional diver at one of the hospitals in Sri Lanka. The man was hit by a needlefish while he was diving. The right ear was penetrated deep by the long jaws of the fish. The beak and any other particles of the fish were removed. At the start he showed ear bleeding. The patient developed bilateral visual blurring and sudden onset left face, arm, and leg weakness. The brain showed an acute infarction and the brain stem reflexes were stopped and the brain confirmed dead after 72 h.

Another fatal case happened to a young man swimming at night in the Arabian-Persian Gulf area of Saudi Arabia. The attack was to his neck and as result a severe cut occurred from a strong hit by a needlefish. The man died on his way to the hospital (Sabiq 2015).

Nonfatal Incidents

The case of a Hawaiian man reported by Barss (1982) was a stabbing case in the right eye. As a result the medial canthal ligament was injured, laceration to the lacrimal duct, and decreased vision occurred. After comprehensive examination, it appears that the beak of the fish had penetrated very deep and damaged the optic nerve causing blindness in the right eye. The other case of attack reported by Barss (1982) happened to a man in Hawaii when he was wading in the water driving fish into a net. A big needlefish jumped and pierced his right lower eyelid. He became blind in the right eye with paralysis of the right cranial nerves once he reached the hospital. It seems that the beak passed on into the brain damaging descending motor tracts from the right cerebral cortex. Two months later he was still severely disabled with no sign of recovery from the hemiplegia.

In the thorax–abdomen area, Barss (1982) has reported three cases. In these cases, a 9-year-old girl was stabbed in the stomach while she was wading in the water which resulted in perforating the stomach and the liver; an adult fisher received a peritoneal haemorrhage with prolonged infection; and an adult fisher had an attack on the left side of his abdomen causing a perforation of the large and small intestines.

Bendet et al. (1995) have reported a case of needlefish attack against a man, hitting him in his neck. This incident caused severe injuries to the cervical area.

In the lower limbs, an attack was performed by a needlefish on a knee joint of a man in New Caledonia. The attack caused articular disorder that led to acute arthritis (Labbe et al. 1995).

Among the nonfatal cases, facial paralysis happened to a man diving near the Maldives when a needlefish weighing 30 kg hit his head. Paralysis of the facial nerve resulted 4–5 h after the collision. After examination and surgical operation, part of the fish jaw was removed from the retromandibular fossa. The fish jaw had compressed the facial nerve (Zwisler and Beigel 1997).

Barton and Bond (2007) reported on a case where the patient was nearly killed. A young snorkeler in Florida was attacked by a jumping needlefish that hit her in the heart.

Moreno (2005) reported on a 19-year-old diver stabbed in the stomach by a large needlefish while he was attempting to dive in Kahana Bay, Hawaii. Severe damage to his liver occurred.

An incident happened to a 31-year-old Indian man who was fishing when a large needlefish struck him in his left eye. The examination of the eye revealed bare light perception, fixed and dilated pupil, afferent pupillary defect, absent motility, lid oedema, proptosis, and vitreous haemorrhage. The patient lost vision with his left eye after 2 days (Thakker and Usha 2006).

The maxilla is another place in the head region that becomes a target for the attack of the needlefish. Ebner et al. (2009) have reported on the case of a 29-year-old man with a penetrating facial wound caused by needlefish. This incident happened in the early hours of darkness, when two amateur divers were spearfishing off the shores of Herzliya (10 km north of Tel Aviv, Israel). The strong jaws penetrated the maxilla transversely and obliquely from the left canine-fossae, through the nasal cavity, and to the right maxillary sinus, with its tip reaching the right medial-inferior orbital wall. The needlefish jaws were completely removed using a combined endoscopic and external approach.

In 2012, a German kitesurfer was attacked by needlefish in his foot while he was surfing before taking off (Kite Magazin 2012).

The case of Ohtsubo et al. (2013) was about a 27-year-old man who was injured by a fish hitting his right lower eyelid while swimming in Okinawa, a Japanese sea resort. After examination, it appears that there was a small laceration in the right lower eyelid, and a foreign body was detected in the right orbit by computed tomography (CT). Visual function tests indicated diplopia in the right vision and restriction of right eye abduction. Visual acuity of the right eye showed no abnormalities. Computed tomographic findings showed calcifications of 25 mm in the upper part of the superior rectus muscle and 7 mm on the outer side of the lateral rectus muscle in the right orbit. Two elongated bodies that were suspected to be needlefish jaws were found.

There is a high risk of secondary infection after needlefish injury which is most likely to happen as the members of the family Belonidae are carnivorous and their putrid dentition is a source of infection. In this case, intraorbital foreign bodies were removed 10 days after the injury. The bone had begun to undergo decomposition. Reduction of wound infection was achieved by vigorous irrigation and debridement. Vibrio parahaemolyticus or Vibrio vulnificus are the most suspected Vibrio species to be present in such attack. Therefore, antibiotic therapy should be given in such cases.

Mild Nonfatal Incidents

A slight attack by needlefish can be seen in the cases reported by Barss (1982). A man was fishing at night in Hawaii when knocked unconscious into the sea. He was rescued by someone else and survived. A similar case happened to a man hit by needlefish on the side of his head and who fell down in the sea. The man died probably by drowning. Another slight attack happened to a man paddling a canoe at dusk when he felt a strong hit in his buttock. A deep wound resulted from this attack.

3.2 Surgeonfish

  • Family: Acanthuridae

  • Acanthurus dussumieri (Valenciennes 1835)

  • Common name: Eyestripe surgeonfish

  • Arabic name: سمكة الجراح مخططة العيون

  • Etymology: Acanthurus : Greek, akantha = thorn + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.7)

Fig. 3.7

Eyestripe surgeonfish, Acanthurus dussumieri Valenciennes, 1835. Courtesy of Hiroyuki Motomura, Japan

Identification

  • Body high and compressed.

  • Small mouth with spatulate teeth.

  • Dorsal fin continuous without notch. Emarginate caudal fin to lunate. Clear blade on sides of caudal peduncle which folds into a deep horizontal groove.

  • Body light brown in colour with many longitudinal and wavy purple grey lines. Irregular lines on head. Yellow band on anterior end of eye and not reaching posterior end. Cover of caudal fin spine light cream. Dorsal and anal fins with bluish band. Caudal fin deep blue with several small black spots. Pectoral fins light yellowish brown (Fischer and Bianchi 1984).

World Distribution

The distribution of this species is confined to the Indo-Pacific region. It is found from east Africa to the Hawaiian Islands and north to southern Japan and south to the Great Barrier Reef and Lord Howe Island (Froese and Pauly 2015).

Distribution in the Study Area

This species is absent from the Arabian-Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman areas (Fischer and Bianchi 1984; Randall 1995; Froese and Pauly 2016), but it has been reported from the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula at the coasts of Oman (Randall 1995; Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003) and Yemen (Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003).

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species found living in reef areas at depth range 4–131 m (Lieske and Myers 1996).

Biology

Individuals of this species live in schools and adults mainly stay on deep coastal reef slopes (Myers 1991). The juveniles are found in rocky reefs (Kuiter and Tonozuka 2001). They mainly have a diurnal habit (Myers 1991). Sexes are separated in this species as is the case in all members of this family (Reeson 1983). There is no sexual dimorphism in this species, but males usually take on courtship colours (Choat et al. 2012a, b, c). Individuals can live up to 28 years as in the Great Barrier Reef (Choat and Robertson 2002). The human interaction with this species is given in a separate section below.

Economic Value

This species is taken for its delicious meat and it is also used in the aquarium trade (Choat et al. 2012a, b, c).

Conservation Status

This species is classified as Least Concern in the Red List of the IUCN because it has a wide distribution, habitat range, and occurrence in marine reserves (Choat et al. 2012a, b, c). There are no conservation plans available for this species.
  • Acanthurus leucosternon (Bennett 1833)

  • Common name: Powderblue surgeonfish

  • Arabic name: سمكة الجراح الزرقاء

  • Etymology: Acanthurus : Greek, akantha = thorn + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.8)

Fig. 3.8

Powderblue surgeonfish, Acanthurus leucosternon Bennett, 1833. Courtesy of Lewis Cocks, Saudi Arabia

Identification

  • Body high and compressed.

  • Small mouth with spatulate close teeth.

  • Dorsal fin continuous with no notch. Emarginate caudal fin. Lancet-like spine on sides of caudal peduncle which fits into groove lying horizontally.

  • Body blue in colour with white band across anterior part of thorax from pectoral fin base. Spine of caudal peduncle yellow. Head black with white line connecting chin and dorsal corner of mouth. Dorsal fin yellow and caudal fin black with large white crescentic and posterior marginal area. Pectoral fin clear with yellow rays. Pelvic fins grey (Fischer and Bianchi 1984).

World Distribution

It is found in the Indian Ocean area only from east Africa to the Andaman Sea and to Indonesia and Christmas Island.

Distribution in the Study Area

This species is absent from the Arabian-Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman areas (Randall 1995; Froese and Pauly 2015), but it has been reported from the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula at the coasts of Oman (Randall 1995; Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003) and Yemen (Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003). Fischer and Bianchi (1984) reported it present on the eastern African coast, and in the southern Arabian peninsula.

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species found living in reef areas at depth range 0–25 m (Lieske and Myers 1996).

Biology

Individuals of this species prefer shallow water areas and are found in schools when feeding (Lieske and Myers 1996). The human interaction for this species is given in a separate section below.

Economic Value

This species is taken for its meat and for the aquarium trade along its geographical distribution.

Conservation Status

This species is ranked Least Concern in the Red list of the IUCN as it is widely distributed in the Indian Ocean with high abundance in some areas and rare in others and presence of differences in densities were observed in the fished areas (Abesamis et al. 2012a, b).
  • Acanthurus mata (Cuvier 1829)

  • Common name: Elongate surgeonfish

  • Arabic name: سمكة الجراح الطويله

  • Etymology: Acanthurus : Greek, akantha = thorn + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.9)

Fig. 3.9

Elongate surgeonfish, Acanthurus mata (Cuvier, 1829). Courtesy of Hiroyuki Motomura, Japan

Identification

  • Body is more elongated than in other species of Acanthurus genus.

  • Head with sloping profile and short snout.

  • Slender caudal peduncle.

  • Mouth small with small teeth.

  • Lunate caudal fin.

  • Body dark brown in colour with blue lines extending lengthwise from head to posterior end of body. Area posterior to eye with yellow colour with two yellow bands extending anteriorly. Upper end of gill opening with black spot. Base of dorsal fin with narrow blue stripe and a black stipe below it getting wider posteriorly (Randall 1995).

World Distribution

It is distributed from the Red Sea south to Natal, South Africa and east to the Marquesas and Tuamoto Islands. It is also found in Japanese waters and in the south the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia (Froese and Pauly 2016).

Distribution in the Study Area

This species is absent from the Arabian-Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman areas (Randall 1995; Froese and Pauly 2016), but it has been reported from the southern coasts of the Arabian peninsula at the coasts of Oman (Randall 1995; Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003) and Yemen (Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003).

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species found in reef areas at depth range 5–100 m (Al-Sakaff and Esseen 1999).

Biology

Adult individuals of this species prefer steep slopes and turbid water (Broad 2003). At spawning time, they aggregate in groups (Domeier and Colin 1997; Kuiter and Tonozuka 2001). Individuals are very mobile with maximum age of 23 years (Choat and Robertson 2002). As in other acanthurid species, the sexes are separated in this species. The human interaction of this species is given in a separate section below.

Economic Value

This species is taken for its meat and for the aquarium trade.

Conservation Status

This species is ranked as Least Concern in the Red List of the IUCN as it is widespread in the Indo-Pacific and common in its range, fishing is not major threat, and it is found in a number of marine reserves (Abesamis 2012a, b).
  • Acanthurus sohal (Forsskål 1775)

  • Common name: Sohal surgeonfish

  • Arabic name: سمكة جراح سوهال

  • Etymology: Acanthurus : Greek, akantha = thorn + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.10)

Fig. 3.10

Sohal surgeonfish, Acanthurus   sohal (Forsskål, 1775). Courtesy of Jan Bukkems, Holland

Identification

  • Body oblong in shape.

  • Caudal spine long.

  • In adult, caudal fin has strong lunate shape with upper and lower lobes elongated.

  • Body light grey. Head with black lines extending down to lower edge of eye. Broader black stripes on body and in pectoral fin region. Single orange blotch near base of pectoral fin. Socket of caudal spine orange in colour. Blue margin on black dorsal , anal, and pelvic fins (Randall 1995).

World Distribution

The distribution of this species is confined to the western Indian Ocean (Froese and Pauly 2016).

Distribution in the Study Area

This species is recorded from the Arabian-Persian Gulf at the coasts of Iran (Froese and Pauly 2016) at Kuwait (Bishop 2003). It is reported from the Sea of Oman (Randall 1995) and from the south coasts of the Arabian peninsula at the Yemeni and Omani waters.

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

This marine species is found living in reef areas (Baensch and Debelius 1997).

Biology

This species has an aggressive and territorial behaviour (Lieske and Myers 1996) and swims rapidly towards strangers (Alwany et al. 2005). The maximum age reached by this species is 11 years with a maximum length 323 mm in total. The human interaction with this species is given in a separate section below.

Economic Value

This species is taken for its meat and for the aquarium trade.

Conservation Status

Least Concern status in the Red List of IUCN is given to this species. This is because the threat that it faces from fishing activities and from collecting live specimens for the aquarium trade do not reach the thresholds for the threatened category. It is also abundant throughout its geographical distribution and found in several marine reserves (Choat et al. 2012a, b, c).
  • Acanthurus tennentii (Günther 1861)

  • Common name: Doubleband surgeonfish

  • Arabic name: سمكة الجراح مزدوجة الخطوط

  • Etymology: Acanthurus : Greek, akantha = thorn + Greek, oura = tail (Fig. 3.11)

Fig. 3.11

Doubleband surgeonfish, Acanthurus tennentii Günther, 1861. Courtesy of Rainer Kretzberg, Bedburg, Germany

Identification

  • Body oblong.

  • Caudal fin lunate in adult and emarginate in young.

  • Body with brownish black colouration. Two broad black bands directed posteriorly from upper corner of gill opening. Caudal spine housed in black socket surrounded with blue margin. Caudal fin bordered posteriorly by white band (Randall 1995).

World Distribution

The distribution of this species is confined to the Indian Ocean. It is found from east Africa to Sri Lanka and the Lesser Sunda Islands of southern Indonesia (Froese and Pauly 2016).

Distribution in the Study Area

This species has not been recorded from the Arabian-Persian Gulf region or from the Sea of Oman (Randall 1995; Froese and Pauly 2015), but it is present in the coasts of Yemen and Oman in the south Arabian peninsula (Randall 1995; Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003).

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species living in the reef area at depth range 1–40 m (Allen and Erdmann 2012).

Biology

Individuals of this species are solitary or form groups (Allen and Erdmann 2012). Human interaction of this species is given in a section below.

Economic Value

This species is used as food in the countries along its geographical distribution. It is also taken by the aquarium trade.

Conservation Status

Least Concern status in the Red List of IUCN was given to this species as it is widely distributed and the fishing and aquarium activities are not at the threatened level. In addition, it is found in marine reserves in parts of its range (Russell et al. 2012a, b).
  • Ctenochaetus striatus (Quoy and Gaimard 1825)

  • Common name: Striated surgeonfish

  • Arabic name: سمكة الجراح المشطبه

  • Etymology: Ctenochaetus : Greek, kteis, ktenos = comb + Greek, chaite = hair (Fig. 3.12)

Fig. 3.12

Striated surgeonfish, Ctenochaetus   striatus (Quoy & Gaimard, 1825). Courtesy of Hiroyuki Motomura, Japan

Identification

  • Body high and compressed.

  • Small mouth with numerous, movable, and slender teeth.

  • Dorsal fin with no notch. Caudal fin lunate.

  • Body dark olive in colour with blue-grey lines extending from head to tail. Head and nape with small orange spots. Dorsal and anal fins with five dark blue broad lines extending horizontally. Base of dorsal fin with small black spots in juveniles (Fischer and Bianchi 1984).

World Distribution

The distribution of this species is confined to the Indo-Pacific region excluding Hawaii, the Marquesas, and Easter Islands (Randall and Clements 2001).

Distribution in the Study Area

There is no record of this species from the Arabian-Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman (Randall 1995; Froese and Pauly 2016), but it is found in the south Arabian peninsula at the coasts of Yemen and Oman (Randall 1995; Zajonz et al. 2000; Froese and Pauly 2016).

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

This marine species lives in association with reefs at depth range 1–35 m (Allen and Erdmann 2012).

Biology

Individuals of this species living in the Pacific have a longer lifespan than those living in the Indian Ocean. In the first year of its life, individuals of this species have a rapid growth. The maximum number of annuli reported from this species is 32–35 (Choat and Axe 1996). The size at maturity is 1350 mm in total length (Choat and Robertson 2002). The human interaction of this species is given in a section below.

Economic Value

This species is taken for its food and for the aquarium trade.

Conservation Status

This species has been granted the Least Concern criterion in the Red List of the IUCN for the following reasons: it is a widespread species, common and abundant in reef areas, no evidence of population decline, and it is found in several marine reserves in some regions of its range (Choat et al. 2012a, b, c).
  • Zebrasoma xanthurum (Blyth 1852)

  • Common name: Yellowtail tang

  • Arabic name: سمكة الجراح صفراء الذنب

  • Etymology: Zebrasoma : Derived from Zebra = African horse + Greek, soma = body; referring to the stripes (Fig. 3.13).

Fig. 3.13

Yellowtail tang, Zebrasoma   xanthurum (Blyth, 1852). Courtesy of Laith Jawad, New Zealand

Identification

  • Body high and compressed.

  • Spatulate teeth.

  • Patch of small spines anterior to the caudal peduncle spine.

  • Long snout.

  • Elevated dorsal and anal fins.

  • Body with blue colour and dark spots on head, anterior part of body, and on abdomen. Caudal fin and posterior edges of pectoral fin bright yellow (Randall 1995).

World Distribution

The distribution of this species is confined to the western Indian Ocean (Randall and Anderson 1993).

Distribution in the Study Area

This species is recorded in the waters of all the countries of the Arabian-Persian Gulf and in the Sea of Oman (Randall 1995; Froese and Pauly 2016). It is also reported from the south Arabian peninsula at the coasts of Yemen and Oman (Randall 1995; Manilo and Bogorodsky 2003; Froes and Pauly 2016).

Habitat and Ecosystem Role

It is a marine species living in reef areas at depth range from the surface down to 20 m (Lieske and Myers 1996).

Biology

Individuals of this species swim and feed during the daytime only. During the night, they hide in their shelter in the reef (Myers et al. 2012). Sexual dimorphism is possible in this species as the cloaca is bigger in females (Bushnell et al. 2010). The human interaction of this species is given in a section below.

Economic Value

This species is taken for its meat and for the aquarium trade.

Conservation Status

This species has been granted the Least Concern criterion in the Red List of the IUCN for the following reasons: this species is distributed around the Arabian peninsula, it is abundant throughout its range, and fishing and aquarium trade activities are minor components (Myers et al. 2012).

3.2.1 Cuts Caused by Surgeonfish

All members of the family Acanthuridae are distinguished in having notable external spines and plates situated laterally on the caudal peduncle. These structures take several shapes. In the members of the subfamily Nasinae, there are one or two immovable bony plates. In the members of the subfamily Prionurinae, there are up to 10 peduncular keels (Smith and Heemstra 1986). Nelson (1976) called them armature for use in inter- and intraspecific interactions (Schober 1984, 1986). The spines are considered poisonous by some authors (Beebe 1926) and cause severe pain when they sting. Actually, the acanthurid spines are not connected to a poisonous gland, but are usually covered with a pigmented epithelium membrane which may have a toxic effect (Randall 1959).

The length of the caudal spine in acanthurid species varies among species. The spine of the species Ctenochaetus striatus and Acanthurus sohal have the longest and sharpest caudal spine among the acanthurid species (Randall 1959).

As an example of acanthurid species, the anatomy of the caudal spine apparatus, its connection with the vertebral column, and the locking mechanism are given for the species Acanthurus leucosternon (Schober and Ditrich 1992).

In this species, the spine is embedded with its basal plate in dermal connective tissue and projects anteriorly (Fig. 3.14). It can be erected nearly to an acute angle as a maximum. The erection happens when the muscles connecting the spine to caudal vertebra no. 21 contract and pull the caudal part of the spine and as result, the spine erects. The support to the erected spine originates from the process of caudal vertebra no. 22. To restore the spine to its resting position, the set of muscles and myosepta present in the region work together to attain this action.
Fig. 3.14

Drawing showing; above, the tail of a surgeonfish Acanthurus showing the caudal spine in the contracted position; below, the tail of Acanthurus showing the caudal spine in the extended position. After Halstead (1967)

The fish becomes aggressive when an intruder enters its territory. In such behaviour, the surgeonfish erects its spine and begins the attack on the intruder. The attack takes the form of beating the tail of the attacker with the body of the intruder in order to inflict severe injuries and make it leave the territory. A model fish representing an intruder was placed in the territory of a surgeonfish. The latter started its attack by beating its tail with the body of the model intruder fish. Such an attack caused a scratch 20 mm long and depth of up to 2 mm (Schober and Ditrich 1992). The surgeonfish will continue its attack until the intruder leaves its territory. Such an attack could happen to any divers who might find themselves in the territory of a surgeonfish. During this aggressive attack, the caudal peduncle of the surgeonfish stiffens and the fish moves rapidly towards the intruder.

The surgeonfish usually causes its injury when another fish or human swipes its body or part of its body against the surgeonfish. This cut is usually deep or sometimes it is a puncture. The pain occurring is worse than the wound itself if the membrane that covers the spine is inflicted in the wound (Thomas and Scot 1977).

It is very easy for a surgeonfish to slash divers or snorkelers during a feeding session. It is possible to get a surgeonfish cut when you try to remove surgeonfish from a net, spear, or fish hole as anglers usually do.

To prevent the incidence of getting cut by surgeonfish, the following instructions need to be taken into consideration (Thomas and Scot 1977).
  1. 1.

    It is important to throw food away from yourself and others while feeding the surgeonfish underwater.

     
  2. 2.

    Fishers and anglers should wear thick gloves when handling surgeonfish in nets or on spears.

     
  3. 3.

    Divers should not chase or corner surgeonfish especially with the territorial species as they are very aggressive.

     

The cut caused by the surgeonfish is usually short and deep, but bleeds freely. If the membrane covering the spine gets inside the wound, severe pain with burning sensation results. Later, muscle and swelling aches at the cut area will develop. A tendon or nerve damage may cause numbness and inability to move.

The first aid that needs to follow in the case of a surgeonfish cut (Thomas and Scot 1977) is:
  1. 1.

    Gently pull the skin apart and remove any foreign materials and debris left from the incident. This can be done either by rinsing the wound in water or using tweezers.

     
  2. 2.

    Clean the inside of the wound by scrubbing the cut directly with gauze or a clean cloth soaked in clean fresh water.

     
  3. 3.

    Press on the wound to stop the bleeding.

     
  4. 4.

    If bleeding persists or if the edges of the wound are jagged or gaping, the cut needs stitches.

     

If a toxin is envenomed in the wound as a result of the presence of membrane tissue covering the spine, then localised pain and swelling will result. The spines can break inside the wound and are visible on X-ray or by using ultrasound. Removing the parts of the broken spine will prevent infection and foreign body granulation (Thomas and Scot 1977).

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laith A. Jawad
    • 1
  1. 1.ManukauNew Zealand

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