Overview

Brief Summary

The chestnut moray, or panamic green moray (Gymnothorax castaneus) is a common and widespread species of moray eel (family Muraenidae) native to in the subtropical and tropical eastern Pacific waters from the gulf of California to Ecuador and archipelagos including the Cocos Islands and the Galapagos.  A robust fish, it grows to about 1.5 meters (4.5 feet) long.  Gymnothorax castaneus inhabits holes and crevices in rocky reef environments up to 35 meters (100 feet) deep, though the very dark colored juveniles sometimes live in mangrove swamps.  The chestnut moray is identifiable by its green brown color and white flecking on the dark dorsal fin (Discover Life 2015). An aggressive carnivore, the chestnut moray feeds in the open at night on small fish and mobile invertebrates such as crustaceans, octopus and squid. Like most morays, during the day it usually stays with its body concealed in a shelter, often protruding its head from the hole (McCosker and Béarez 2010).

Moray eels have been documented as a primary “nuclear fish” species, i.e. disruptive feeders that scatter remains or flush out food sources, and in so doing attract opportunistic heterospecifics.  In the Sea of Cortez, Strand (1988) observed that chestnut morays, no matter what their activity, are consistently trailed by multiple opportunistic followers of several species, for periods of time considerably longer than trailing fish followed any other “nuclear fish.”  These feeding associations sometimes involve fish with diets overlapping that of G. castaneus, causing occasional aggression between moray and followers (Strand 1988). 

  • Discover Life, 2015. Gymnothorax castaneus (Jordan and Gilbert, 1883) Chestnut moray. Retrieved January 22, 2015 from http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Gymnothorax+castaneus.
  • McCosker, J. & Béarez, P. 2010. Gymnothorax castaneus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. Downloaded on 22 January 2015 from
  • Strand, S. 1988. Following Behavior: Interspecific Foraging Associations among Gulf of California Reef Fishes. Copeia 2:351-357.
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Comprehensive Description

Description

  Common names: moray (English), morena (Espanol)
 
Gymnothorax castaneus (Jordan & Gilbert, 1883)


Panamic green moray,     Chestnut moray


Robust; snout heavy and blunt; front nostril tubular, rear nostril with a raised rim, at level of top head profile; teeth conical, without serrations; top jaw with 1 row of teeth at side and three longitudinal rows of teeth at front; dorsal and anal fins developed as skin-covered ridges, but relatively tall and distinct; dorsal fin origin on top of head, well in front of gill opening.

Brown to brownish green, usually plain, but sometimes with a few white or yellow flecks, mostly on rear half of body, a few on dorsal fin. Juvenile  very dark to blackish, with a whitish border to the dorsal fin.

Size: attains 150 cm.

Habitat: mainly on rocky reefs, although juveniles also occur in mangrove areas.

Depth 1-35 m.

The Gulf of California to Ecuador, plus the Revillagigedos, Cocos, Malpelo and the Galapagos.
   
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Distribution

Depth

Depth Range (m): 1 (S) - 35 (S)
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Zoogeography

See Map (including site records) of Distribution in the Tropical Eastern Pacific 
 
Global Endemism: All species, East Pacific endemic, Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) endemic

Regional Endemism: All species, TEP endemic, Continent + Island (s), Continent, Island (s)

Residency: Resident

Climate Zone: North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California), Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap), Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos), Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo)
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Range Description

This species is found in the Eastern Pacific from southern Baja and the Gulf of California, central Mexico, and from El Salvador to Ecuador, including the Revillagigedo, Cocos, Malpelo and Galapagos Islands.
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Eastern Pacific: Gulf of California to Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands.
  • McCosker, J.E. and R.H. Rosenblatt 1995 Muraenidae. Morenas. p. 1303-1315. In W. Fischer, F. Krupp, W. Schneider, C. Sommer, K.E. Carpenter and V. Niem (eds.) Guia FAO para Identification de Especies para lo Fines de la Pesca. Pacifico Centro-Oriental. 3 Vols. FAO, Rome. (Ref. 9324)
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Eastern Pacific.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Size

Length max (cm): 150.0 (S)
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Size

Maximum size: 1500 mm TL
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Max. size

150 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 9324))
  • McCosker, J.E. and R.H. Rosenblatt 1995 Muraenidae. Morenas. p. 1303-1315. In W. Fischer, F. Krupp, W. Schneider, C. Sommer, K.E. Carpenter and V. Niem (eds.) Guia FAO para Identification de Especies para lo Fines de la Pesca. Pacifico Centro-Oriental. 3 Vols. FAO, Rome. (Ref. 9324)
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Type Information

Syntype; Lectotype for Sidera castanea Jordan & Gilbert
Catalog Number: USNM 29591
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Preparation: Radiograph
Collector(s): C. Gilbert
Year Collected: 1880
Locality: Mexico: Mazatlan., Sinaloa, Mexico, Pacific
  • Syntype: Jordan, D. S. & Gilbert, C. H. 1883. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 5 (335): 647.; Lectotype: Smith, D. G. 1994. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 566: 24.
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Syntype; Paralectotype for Sidera castanea Jordan & Gilbert
Catalog Number: USNM 29535
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): C. Gilbert
Year Collected: 1880
Locality: Mexico: Mazatlan., Sinaloa, Mexico, Pacific
  • Syntype: Jordan, D. S. & Gilbert, C. H. 1883. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 5 (335): 647.; Paralectotype: Smith, D. G. 1994. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology. No. 566: 24.
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Paratype for Sidera castanea Jordan & Gilbert
Catalog Number: USNM 28246
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Fishes
Collector(s): C. Gilbert
Year Collected: 1880
Locality: Mexico: Mazatlan., Sinaloa, Mexico, Pacific
  • Paratype: Jordan, D. S. & Gilbert, C. H. 1883. Proceedings of the United States National Museum. 5 (335): 647.
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Ecology

Habitat

Salinity: Marine, Brackish

Inshore/Offshore: Inshore, Inshore Only

Water Column Position: Bottom, Bottom only

Habitat: Reef (rock &/or coral), Rocks, Corals, Reef and soft bottom, Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom), Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove), Estuary, Mangrove

FishBase Habitat: Reef Associated
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This reef-associated species lives in rocky, boulder strewn areas, and walls. This species may occasionally wander into open sandy areas about 10-20m from cover.

Systems
  • Marine
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Environment

reef-associated; marine; depth range 3 - 36 m (Ref. 5227)
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Depth range based on 19 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 2 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 1 - 21
  Temperature range (°C): 24.554 - 26.532
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.162 - 7.461
  Salinity (PPS): 33.826 - 34.642
  Oxygen (ml/l): 4.292 - 4.733
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.429 - 0.858
  Silicate (umol/l): 3.286 - 6.806

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 1 - 21

Temperature range (°C): 24.554 - 26.532

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.162 - 7.461

Salinity (PPS): 33.826 - 34.642

Oxygen (ml/l): 4.292 - 4.733

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.429 - 0.858

Silicate (umol/l): 3.286 - 6.806
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Depth: 3 - 36m.
From 3 to 36 meters.

Habitat: reef-associated.
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Trophic Strategy

Feeding

Feeding Group: Carnivore

Diet: mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs), octopus/squid/cuttlefish, bony fishes
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Lives in rocky, boulder strewn areas and walls. Lurks in holes, crevices and dark recesses during day; forage in the open at night. Constantly opens and closes its mouth--an action required for respiration, not a threat (Ref. 5227). May occasionally wander into open sandy areas about 10-20 m from cover. Feeds mainly on crustaceans and fishes and are highly responsive to stimuli emanating from wounded or distressed prey at distances exceeding 20 m (Ref. 28023).Most often seen with their head protruding from crevices during the day. Are known to wander forth to attack their prey at daytime. The prey need not be small or injured to elicit an attack . Being a large and aggressive moray, it presents a danger to lobster divers who enter caves or crevices (Ref. 28023).
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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Egg Type: Pelagic, Pelagic larva
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gymnothorax castaneus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Not evaluated / Listed

CITES: Not listed
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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
McCosker, J. & Béarez, P.

Reviewer/s
Carpenter, K., Polidoro, B. & Livingstone, S. (Global Marine Species Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is widespread in the Eastern Pacific region. No major threats to this species are known, and there is no current indication of population decline. It is listed as Least Concern.
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Population

Population
No population information is available for this species.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats known for this species.
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Least Concern (LC)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no known specific conservation measures for this species. However, this species distribution falls within the Galapagos, Cocos, and Malpelo Islands Marine Protected Areas (WDPA 2006).
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Wikipedia

Panamic green moray eel

Gymnothorax castaneus and Elacatinus inomatus.jpg

The panamic green moray eel (Gymnothorax castaneus) is a large moray eel in the Pacific.[1] Common names also include chestnut moray eel.

The panamic green moray is found in the Pacific from the Gulf of California to Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands. [2] It grows to about 1.5 m in length,[2] and is brown to brownish green. [3] It is found near reefs and associated waters between 3 and 36 m deep. [2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McCosker, John E. Rosenblatt, Richard H. (1975) The moray eels (Pisces: Muraenidae) of the Galapagos Islands, with new records and synonymies of extralimital species, Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. v.40 no.13.
  2. ^ a b c Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2009). "Gymnothorax castaneus" in FishBase. 7 2009 version.
  3. ^ Gerald R. Allen, David Ross Robertson (1994) Fishes of the tropical eastern Pacific, University of Hawaii Press


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