Red Sea cardinal swims to Mediterranean

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A species of tropical marine fish normally found in the Red Sea has managed to swim to the Mediterranean by navigating the Suez Canal.

Apogon queketti, the Spotfin cardinal, is normally found in the western Indian Ocean, the southern Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, but scientists have recently discovered the species living in the Mediterranean.

According to a paper by Eryilmaz and Dalyan in the latest issue of the Journal of Fish Biology, Apogon queketti was recorded for the first time in the Mediterranean at Iskenderun Bay in Turkey, after two specimens measuring 10-11cm/4" in length were caught by a trawler.

Eryilmaz and Dalyan believe that the species must have migrated to the Med by swimming up the Suez Canal.

The mouthbrooding fish has a characteristic dark spot on the first dorsal fin and dark longitudinal brown stripes.

The species belongs to the Apogon carinatus species group is believed to be a member of Gon's Jaydia subgenus. It is the only member of the subgenus that is found in the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean - the other two, carinatus and poecilopterus are found predominantly in the Indian Ocean.

According to Gon and Randall's 2003 review of Red Sea cardinalfishes, Budker and Fourmanoir recorded a cardinal caught in a trawl in the Gulf of Suez in the 1950s as A. poecilopterus, however, these authors believe the fish was probably queketti.

For more information see the paper: Eryilmaz L and C Dalyan (2006) - First record of Apogon queketti Gilchrist (Osteichthyes: Apogonidae) in the Mediterranean Sea. Journal of Fish Biology, Vol. 69, page 1251.