Wednesday, September 7, 2016

[Ichthyology • 2016] Epinephelus kupangensis • A New Species of Grouper (Epinephelus; Epinephelidae) from the Indo-Pacific

Epinephelus kupangensis
Tucker, Kurniasih & Craig, 2016  

Fig. 1. Top: holotype MZB 23005 (320 mm TL), Sahul Banks, Timor Sea. Middle: paratype MZB 23006 (366 mm TL), Sahul Banks, Timor Sea. Bottom: paratype MZB 23008 (385 mm TL), purchased at a fish market in Kupang, Indonesia. Lower pane shows fish freshly caught; top two panes show fish in a more advanced state of decomposition. The pale patch on the ‘‘cheek’’ of the fish in mid-pane is an artifact of the dead fish in contact with a surface and not a true color characteristic of the species. The enlarged abdomen in the top pane is a result of an overinflated swim bladder, and the indentation on the head is likely a result of damage to the specimen after landing. This is the only specimen we have noted with a pronounced depression on the dorsal part of the head.

A new species of Indo-Pacific grouper is described from nine specimens, 165–391 mm in SL. Epinephelus kupangensis, new species, is similar in appearance to, and has been treated as, Epinephelus amblycephalus (Bleeker, 1857). The two species are both found in deep waters of the Indo-Pacific and have overlapping ranges in eastern Indonesia, and likely beyond. Epinephelus kupangensis, new species, can be distinguished from Epinephelus amblycephalus on the basis of coloration, counts, and measurements. The species is characterized by the following set of characters: dorsal rays XI, 16; anal rays III, 8; pelvic rays I, 5; pectoral rays 18; caudal rays 18; caudal fin rounded; gill rakers 8+16; lateral line scales 48; longitudinal scale series 99; body scales ctenoid; scales on head cycloid and particularly large in size on opercle; orbit diameter 5.1 in head; pelvic fin 4.0 in head; maxillary streak orange; color when freshly dead pale grayish brown with five dark brown bars; orange-brown spots present dorsally on head and at edges and within dark bars.

Distribution.— Several type specimens were provided by commercial fishermen landing at Kupang, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia and Benoa Harbor, Bali, Indonesia. Fishing grounds for these vessels (equipped with GPS tracking for fisheries observation programs) confirms the Savu Sea and Timor Sea as locations of catch for these specimens. Museum and photographic records are also known from Sulawesi and Maluku, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Philippines, Taiwan, and Fiji. We suspect this species has a broad Indo-West Pacific distribution.

Etymology.— The Latin suffix -ensis (denoting place or locality) is appended to the locality of Kupang, Indonesia, the center of the Timor Sea fishery that provided the first author with the holotype and several paratypes.

Sarah J. Tucker, Eka M. Kurniasih and Matthew T. Craig. 2016. A New Species of Grouper (Epinephelus; Epinephelidae) from the Indo-Pacific. Copeia. 104(3); 658-662. DOI: 10.1643/CI-16-398