Albula vulpes

Common Name

Bonefish

Year Described

Linnaeus, 1758

Identification

Dorsal Fin: 17-19
Anal Fin: 8-10
Pelvic Fin: 9-10
Pectoral Fin: 15-17
Gill Rakers: 7-8 upper and 9-10 lower (rudimentary)
Lateral Line: 65-71
Vertebrae: 69-74

Body moderately elongate and rounded in cross-section. Frontal profile strongly convex. Bottom of head flattened. Snout blunt with a small, inferior mouth (not reaching eye). Gular plate present. Eye relatively large. Branchiostegal rays number 13-14. Dorsal fin is high and triangular at mid-body and lacks a lengthened last ray. Pectoral fin is low on body. Pelvic fin is abdominal and under middle of dorsal fin base. Anal fin located far back on body near caudal fin and lacks a prolonged last ray. Tail is strongly forked. Body with moderate scales.

Color

Brilliant silver with numerous alternating dusky/silver stripes on body (following scale rows). Back bluish or greenish. Fins dusky with white edging.

Size

Maximum size to 80mm TL.

Habitat

Shallow coastal waters over sandy bottoms and around seagrass beds.

Range

Canada to Brazil, including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Also Bermuda.

References

Bowen, B.W., S.A. Karl & E. Pfeiler. 2008. Resolving evolutionary lineages and taxonomy of bonefishes (Albula spp.). In: J.S. Ault (ed.), Biology and Management of the World Tarpon and Bonefish Fisheries, pp. 147-154. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, Florida.

McEachran, J.D. & J.D. Fechhelm. 1998. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico. Volume 1: Myxiniformes to Gasterosteiformes. University of Texas Press, Austin. i-viii + 1-1112.

Smith, D.G. 2002. Albulidae. In: FAO Species Identification Guide to Fishes of the Western Atlantic. (ed. Carpenter K), pp. 683-684. UN FAO Publishers, Rome.

Other Notes

The name A. vulpes refers to the W. Atlantic species. Reports outside this region refer to other species. Recent genetic evidence (Bowen et al., 2008) suggests there is a second cryptic species of bonefish that is sympatric with A. vulpes in the Caribbean and Florida Keys. The limits of the distribution of both forms is not known for sure. The undescribed cryptic form is known in the literature as Albula sp.B, but another name (“Albula garcia”) has also circulated on the Internet. This latter name is likely a nomen nudum.

I will keep all W. Atlantic members of the A. vulpes complex under A. vulpes until this second species is formally described.