Is the elusive Gymnothorax polyuranodon really a freshwater moray?

Authors


Tel.: +61 7 4092 5768; email: b.ebner@griffith.edu.au

Abstract

Analysis of 36 records of the rarely encountered moray Gymnothorax polyuranodon indicate that juveniles and adults inhabit fresh and mildly brackish habitats (salinity < 5) in streams of the Australian Wet Tropics Eighty-one per cent of these records were from freshwater streams and collectively demonstrate that this species inhabits fresh water throughout all seasons. A survey of fish researchers, each with at least 100 h of field experience in Australia's Wet Tropics, revealed that 33% of researchers working in fresh waters (nine of 27 researchers) had encountered the species and 15% of researchers with substantial experience working in estuaries (two of 13 researchers) had encountered the species. The species was not sampled or observed in the nearshore marine environment. The only record of an elver of this species was, however, found in an estuary at a salinity of 33·4. This preliminary evidence suggests adult G. polyuranodon occupy freshwater habitats, but further research is required to understand the complete life cycle, including movements, habitat use and reproductive ecology of the species.

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