FISHES of the MALDIVES INDIAN OCEAN
The experts field guide
Author: Rudie H. Kuiter & Co-author: Tim Godfrey
What is the main difference between the new book Fishes of the Maldives Indian Ocean
and the previous book from 1998, Photo Guide to Fishes of the Maldives?
The main difference is the addition of the 15 shark and 16 and ray species. The species numbers of the reef fishes remains about the same at 700+ species, but there have been nearly 80 scientific name changes.
Why have there been so many scientific name changes?
New discoveries continue to be made. Sometimes similar species are confused and their names may change when true identities of doubtful species are found. Lots of species they thought spanned the Indo-Pacific have turned out to be different species in Pacific versus Indian Ocean based on genetics. The parrotfishes have been broken down more based on morphology (more species now Chlororus).
How applicable is the book to others coral reefs in the area, eg East Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius/Reunion, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Chagos, Laccadives? What about the Cocos Keeling Islands, is this too far East?
It covers a large proportion of what is present in these areas. Most species in oceanic regions are widespread and in places such as the Maldives most fishes arrived from other nearby regions by currents carrying larval or pelagic stages. Most fishes can be found in the western part of the Indian ocean and to a lesser extend in the eastern parts where Indian Ocean species are gradually replaced by the Pacific ones, all depending on the general flow of currents.
How does the rate of endemism in the Maldives compare to other regions?
The Blackfoot Anemonefish Amphiprion nigripes is an iconic species in the Maldives and occurs in large numbers. Why is this only found in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and not in say nearby Chagos, while its anemone host Heteractis magnifica is found throughout the Indo-Pacific?
Most of the currents for connectivity flow East and West, and distances are great between the nearest reefs. There is not good mixing either between Chagos and Maldives. Distribution of fishes depends primarily on the early stages of a species. In the case of this anemonefish it lays eggs that are attached to hard surfaces and their hatchlings are well developed, requiring a very short pelagic stage that is usually restricted to lagoons, hence becoming highly localized, unlike its host.
The interplay between larval duration time among these species and ocean currents can determine distribution. Fishes are more or less localised depending on their larval stage and currents. Perhaps not obvious, but oceans have barriers caused by the set path of currents. There are numerous closely related sibling species between Indian and Pacific Oceans that originated from a single ancestor when their populations were split by currents many millions of years ago due to continental drift. The more localised species are, the more different they become over time.
Does the Maldives have many coral dependent species and how will they be affected by climate change and coral bleaching. Are they likely to adapt to the changes?
How effective will new conservation measures, including a total ban on shark fishing in Maldivian waters from 15th March 2010, be for the protection of these species?
Overfishing changes the entire make-up of species. It would certainly help to leave species with slow reproductive rates alone. When in low number they may recover, but often their food source is taken as well. Localised species are those mostly effected. The oceanic species that have a widespread distribution would need protection everywhere and when you have countries ignoring this, the entire population suffers.
This website and all publications shown have been created by Atoll Editions. For more publications visit: www.atolleditions.com.au
Wholesalers can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All content shown here is the intellectual property of Tim Godfrey & Rudie H. Kuiter.
All words and images are copyright protected. Background image courtesy of: rottweiler