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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


VARGAS-ZAMORA, José A.; LOPEZ-SANCHEZ, Myrna I.  and  RAMIREZ-COGHI, Ana R.. Fishes from the Gulf of Nicoya, Pacific, Costa Rica: an update of the lists of the Skimmer and Victor Hensen research vessels. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2019, vol.67, n.4, pp.913-934. ISSN 0034-7744.


Since the middle of the XXth century the Gulf of Nicoya estuary (10o N & 85o W) has been the main source of numerous fishing resources, such as mollusks, crustaceans, and fish. The estuary is presently under the increasing impact of local, regional and global stressors. The expeditions on board the R.V. Skimmer (1979-1980) and R.V. Hensen (1993-1994) research vessels provided multidisciplinary data on the estuary in support of management policies. However, updated information is still needed. Objectives: To update the published lists of fish species from both expeditions and make suggestions for new research areas for future evaluations of the ecosystem. Methods: The fish collections by the Skimmer covered a depth range of 10 to 50 m using an otter trawl net, and those aboard the Victor Hensen were made between 10 and 228 m depth using otter and beam trawl nets. The identification of the fish species and the measurement of its lenghts were made on board of both vessels. The species names were updated based on recent literature and the web page World Register of Marine Species (WORMS). The list of species identified in recent years based on voucher specimens from the estuary and deposited in the Ichthyology Collection of the Museum of Zoology, University of Costa Rica, was also included. Results: The total number of identified species from both vessels is 268. A species of Syacium is yet undescribed. Of the total, 19 are cartilaginous fishes and 249 are bony fishes. The Sciaenidae and the flatfishes were represented by 31 and 32 species, respectivley. The flatfish genus Symphurus was the most diverse, with 11 species. Eighteen species were identified after the publication of the original lists. Eight species were described based on specimens collected during the expeditions: Gymnothorax phalarus, Notarius biffi, N. cookei, Ophicthus mecoptera, O. melope, Sphoeroides rosenblatti, Trinectes xanthurus and Urotrygon cimar. The species present in more than 50% of the 20 Skimmer stations, were: Prionotus horrens (16 stations), Sphoeroides trichocephalus (14), Syacium ovale (13) and Synodus scituliceps (13). In the 12 stations of the V. Hensen there were: Porichthys margaritatus (9), S. scituliceps (8), Bollmannia chlamydes (6), Symphurus callopterus (6), S. elongatus (6), and Synodus evermanni (6). The five longer specimens collected by both vessels, were: the longtail sting ray Hypanus longus (117 cm), the pike conger Cynoponticus coniceps (103 cm), the brown sea catfish Sciades dowii (87 cm), the electric ray Narcine brancroftii (80 cm), and the queen corvina Cynoscion albus (75 cm). The average total length for 137 species measured during the Skimmer cruises was 26 cm, and 29 cm for the 164 measured during the V. Hensen survey. Conclusions: In view of the increasing number of users of the estuarine resources, it is urgent a multidisciplinary evaluation of the ecosystem in support of new management policies. The expected results may facilitate updating the Gulf of Nicoya Trophic Model, a management tool available for the estuary since 1998 and based mainly on information gathered during both expeditions. Ecosystem stressors, such as the extraction of resources, the input of pollutants and its possible link to endocrine disruption, as well as the presence of natural barriers such as hypoxia at deeper waters at the mouth of the estuary must be taken into account in a future evaluation.

Keywords : estuarine fish; fisheries; fish lengths; trawl nets; benthos; Prionotus; Porichthys; Symphurus.

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