Skip to main content Accessibility help

The fishes of Ascension Island, central Atlantic Ocean – new records and an annotated checklist

  • Peter Wirtz (a1), Jane Bingeman (a2), John Bingeman (a2), Ronald Fricke (a3) (a4), Timothy J. Hook (a5) and Jimmy Young (a6)...


A checklist of the fishes of Ascension Island is presented. The species Rhincodon typus, Alopias superciliosus, Isurus oxyrinchus, Carcharhinus obscurus, Galeocerdo cuvier, Sphyrna lewini, Hexanchus griseus, Manta birostris, Gymnothorax vicinus, Hippocampus sp., Epinephelus itajara, Cookeolus japonicus, Apogon pseudomaculatus, Phaeoptyx pigmentaria, Remora albescens, Caranx bartholomaei, Carangoides ruber, Decapterus tabl, Seriola dumerili, Thalassoma sanctaehelenae, Cryptotomus sp., Ruvettus pretiosus, Acanthocybium solandri, Auxis rochei, Auxis thazard, Euthynnus alletteratus, Katsuwonus pelamis, Thunnus alalunga, Thunnus obesus, Xiphias gladius, Istiophorus platypterus, Kajikia albida, Makaira nigricans, Tetrapturus pfluegeri, Hyperoglyphe perciformis, Schedophilus sp., Cantherhines macrocerus, Sphoeroides pachygaster and Diodon eydouxii are recorded for the first time from Ascension Island. We have recognized two previous records as identification errors and indicate 11 other records as doubtful. Including the 40 new records, we now list 173 fish species from Ascension Island, of which 133 might be considered ‘coastal fish species’. Eleven of these (8.3%) appear to be endemic to the island and a further 16 species (12%) appear to be shared endemics with St Helena Island.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The fishes of Ascension Island, central Atlantic Ocean – new records and an annotated checklist
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The fishes of Ascension Island, central Atlantic Ocean – new records and an annotated checklist
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The fishes of Ascension Island, central Atlantic Ocean – new records and an annotated checklist
      Available formats


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: P. Wirtz, Centro de Ciências do Mar, Universidade do Algarve, P-8000-117 Faro, Portugal email:


Hide All
Allen, G.R. and Smith, K.N. (1992) A new species of damselfish (Pomacentridae: Stegastes) from Ascension Island, Atlantic Ocean. Records of the Western Australian Museum 16, 113117.
Baldwin, C.C., Mounts, J.H., Smith, D.G. and Weigt, L.A. (2009) Genetic identification and color descriptions of early life-history stages of Belizean Phaeoptyx and Astrapogon (Teleostei: Apogonidae) with comments on identification of adult Phaeoptyx . Zootaxa 2008, 122.
Bernal, M.A. and Rocha, L.A. (2011) Acanthurus tractus Poey 1860, a valid western Atlantic species of surgeonfish (Teleostei, Acanthuridae), distinct from Acanthurus bahianus Castelnau, 1855. Zootaxa 2905, 6368.
Bingeman, J. and Bingeman, J. (2005) Ascension Island: Inshore Sea Life. Sandown: Coach House Publications.
Böhlke, E.B., McCosker, J.E. and Böhlke, J.E. (1989) Family Muraenidae. In Böhlke, E.B. (ed.) Memoirs of the Sears Foundation for Marine Research 1, 104206.
Böhlke, J.E. and Chaplin, C.C.G. (1968) Fishes of the Bahamas and adjacent tropical waters. Philadelphia: ANSP, i–xxx + 1–771, Pls. 1–36.
Bowen, B.W., Bass, A.L., Muss, A., Carlin, J. and Robertson, D.R. (2006) Phylogeography of two Atlantic squirrelfishes (Family Holocentridae): exploring links between pelagic larval duration and population connectivity. Marine Biology 149, 899913.
Bowen, B.W., Bass, A.L., Rocha, L.A., Grant, W.S. and Robertson, D.R. (2001) Phylogeography of the trumpetfishes (Aulostomus): ring species complex on a global scale. Evolution 55, 10291039.
Briggs, J.C. and Bowen, B.W. (2012) A realignment of marine biogeographic provinces with particular reference to fish distributions. Journal of Biogeography 39, 1230.
Brito, A., Pascual, P., Falcón, J.M., Sancho, A. and González, G. (2002) Peces de las Islas Canarias. Catálogo comentado e ilustrado. La Laguna: Francisco Lemus Editor.
Cadenat, J. and Marchal, E. (1963) Poissons. In résultats des campagnes océanographiques de la Reine-Pokou aux îles Sainte-Hélène et Ascension. Bulletin de l'Institut Francais d'Afrique Noire (A) Sciences Naturelles 25, 12351315, 51 unnumbered pls.
Carlin, J.L., Robertson, D.R. and Bowen, B.W. (2003) Ancient divergences and recent connections in two tropical Atlantic reef fishes Epinephelus adscensionis and Rypticus saponaceus (Percoidei: Serranidae). Marine Biology 143, 10571869.
Clarke, T.A. (1998) Pelagic fishes of the genus Eustomias (Melanostomiidae) presently associated with Eustomias achirus Parin and Pokhilskaya with the description of five new species. Copeia 1998, 676686.
Collette, B.B. and Parin, N.V. (1970) Needlefishes (Belonidae) of the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Atlantide Report 11, 760.
Costagliola, D., Robertson, D.R., Guidetti, P., Stefanni, S., Wirtz, P., Heiser, J.B. and Bernardi, G. (2004) Evolution of the coral reef fish genus Thalassoma (Labridae): 2. Evolution of the Eastern Atlantic species. Marine Biology 144, 377383.
Craig, M.T. and Hasting, P.A. (2007) A molecular phylogeny of the groupers of the subfamily Epinephelinae (Serranidae) with a revised classification of the Epinephelini. Ichthyological Research 54, 117.
David, C. (2011) First look at Grattan Seamount. (accessed 15 December 2012).
Edwards, A.J. (1990) Fish and Fisheries of Saint Helena Island. Newcastle upon Tyne: Centre for Tropical Coastal Management Studies.
Edwards, A.J. (1993) New records of fishes from the Bonaparte Seamount and Saint Helena Island, South Atlantic. Journal of Natural History 27, 493503.
Edwards, A.J. and Glass, C.W. (1987a) The fishes of Saint Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean. I. The shore fishes. Journal of Natural History 21, 617686.
Edwards, A.J. and Glass, C.W. (1987b) The fishes of St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean. II. The pelagic fishes. Journal of Natural History 21, 13671394.
Edwards, A.J. and Lubbock, R. (1983) Marine zoogeography of St Paul's Rocks. Journal of Biogeography 10, 6572.
Eschmeyer, W.N. (1971) Two new Atlantic scorpionfishes. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 37, 501508.
Eschmeyer, W.N. (ed.) (2013) Catalog of fishes electronic version (4 January 2013). Internet publication, San Francisco (California Academy of Sciences). (accessed 21 January 2013).
Floeter, S.R., Rocha, L.A., Robertson, D.R., Joyeux, J.C., Smith-Vaniz, W.F., Wirtz, P., Edwards, A.J., Barreiros, J.P., Ferreira, C.E.L., Gasparini, J.L., Brito, A., Falcón, J.M., Bowen, B.W. and Bernardi, G. (2008) Atlantic reef fish biogeography and evolution. Journal of Biogeography 35, 2247.
Fraser, T.H. (1971) Notes on the biology and systematics of the flatfish genus Syacium (Bothidae) in the straits of Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science 21, 491509.
Fricke, R. (2002) Annotated checklist of the dragonet families Callionymidae and Draconettidae (Teleostei: Callionymoidei), with comments on callionymid fish classification. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde A (Biologie) 645, 1103.
Fricke, R. (ed.) (2013) Literature in the Catalog of fishes. Online version, updated 4 January 2013. Internet publication, San Francisco (California Academy of Sciences). (accessed 21 January 2013).
Gaither, M.R., Schultz, J.K., Bellwood, D.R., Pyle, R.L., DiBattista, J.D., Rocha, L.A. and Bowen, B.W. (2014) Evolution of pygmy angelfishes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 74, 3847.
Gomon, M.F. and Lubbock, R. (1980) A new hogfish of the genus Bodianus (Teleostei: Labridae) from islands of the mid-Atlantic ridge. Northeast Gulf Science 3 [for 1979], 104111.
Günther, A.C.L.G. (1881) Fishes. In Report on a collection made by T. Conry in Ascension Island. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 8, 430440.
Heemstra, P.C. (1991) A taxonomic revision of the eastern Atlantic groupers (Pisces: Serranidae). Boletim do Museu Municipal do Funchal 43, 571, pl. 1.
Holleman, W. (2007) Fishes of the genus Helcogramma (Blennioidei: Tripterygiidae) in the western Indian Ocean, including Sri Lanka, with descriptions of four new species. Smithiana, Publications in Aquatic Biodiversity, Bulletin 7, 5181.
Johnson, R.K. and Bertelsen, E. (1991) The fishes of the family Giganturidae: systematics, distribution and aspects of biology. Dana Report 91, 145.
Kavanagh, K.D. and Olney, J.E. (2006) Ecological correlates of population density and behavior in the circumtropical black triggerfish Melichthys niger (Balistidae). Environmetal Biology of Fishes 76, 387398.
Kner, R. and Steindachner, F. (1867) Neue Fische aus dem Museum der Herren Joh. C. Godeffroy and Sohn in Hamburg. Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe 54, 356395, pls. 1–5.
Knudsen, S.W. and Clements, K.D. (2013) Revision of the fish family Kyphosidae. Zootaxa 3751, 1101.
Kulbicki, M., Parravicini, V., Bellwood, D.R., Arias-Gonzàlez, E., Chabanet, P., Floeter, S.R., Friedlander, A., McPherson, J., Myers, R.E., Vigliola, L. and Mouillot, D. (2013) Global biogeography of reef fishes: a hierarchical quantitative delineation of regions. PLoS ONE 8, e81847. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081847.
Larson, H.K. and Buckle, D.J. (2012) A revision of the goby genus Gnatholepis Bleeker (Teleostei, Gobiidae, Gobionellinae), with description of a new species. Zootaxa 3529, 169.
Lubbock, R. (1978) A new hawkfish of the genus Amblycirrhitus Gill 1862, from Ascension Island/South Atlantic (Pisces: Perciformes: Percoidei: Cirrhitidae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 58 (for 1977), 261265.
Lubbock, R. (1980) The shore fishes of Ascension Island. Journal of Fish Biology 17, 283303.
Lubbock, R. and Sankey, R.D. (1975) A new angelfish of the genus Centropyge (Teleostei: Pomacanthidae) from Ascension Island. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Zoology 28, 227231, pl. 1.
Manning, R.B. and Chace, F.A. Jr (1990) Decapod and stomatopod crustacea from Ascension Island, South Atlantic Ocean. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 503, 191.
Markle, D.F. and Olney, J.E. (1990) Systematics of the pearlfishes (Pisces: Carapidae). Bulletin of Marine Science 47, 269410.
McCosker, J.E. (2004) A new species of finless snake eel (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) from Ascension Island, with comments on Ichthyapus acutirostris . Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 55, 169173.
Monzon-Arguello, C., López-Jurado, L.F., Rico, C., Marco, A., López, P., Hays, G.C. and Lee, P.L.M. (2010) Evidence from genetic and Lagrangian drifter data for transatlantic transport of small juvenile green turtles. Journal of Biogeography 37, 17521766.
Munroe, T.A. (1990) Eastern Atlantic tonguefishes (Symphurus: Cynoglossidae, Pleuronectiformes), with descriptions of two new species. Bulletin of Marine Science 47, 464515.
Munroe, T.A., Brito, A. and Hernández, C. (2000) Symphurus insularis: a new eastern Atlantic dwarf tonguefish (Cynoglossidae: Pleuronectiformes). Copeia 2000, 491500.
Muss, A., Robertson, D.R., Stepien, C.A., Wirtz, P. and Bowen, B. (2001) Phylogeography of Ophioblennius: the role of ocean currents and geography in reef fish evolution. Evolution 55, 561572.
Nakamura, I. and Parin, N.V. (1993) FAO species catalogue. Snake mackerels and cutlassfishes of the world (families Gempylidae and Trichiuridae). FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Fisheries Synopsis 125, 15, i–vii + 1–136.
Nakano, H. and Seki, M.P. (2003) Synopsis of biological data on the blue shark, Prionace glauca Linnaeus. Bulletin of the Fisheries Research Agency, Japan 6, 1855.
Nelson, J.S. (2006) Fishes of the world. 4th edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
Nielsen, J.G. (1961) Psettodoidea and Pleuronectoidea (Pisces, Heterosomata). Atlantide Report 6, 101127, pl. 2.
Nielsen, J.G. and Smith, D.G. (1978) The eel family Nemichthyidae (Pisces: Anguilliformes). Dana Report 88, 171, pls. 1–2.
Norman, J.R. (1935) Coast fishes. Part 1. The South Atlantic. Discovery Reports 12, 158.
Notarbartolo-di-Sciara, G. (1987) A revisionary study of the genus Mobula Rafinesque, 1810 (Chondrichthyes: Mobulidae) with the description of a new species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 91, 191.
Parin, N.V. and Belyanina, T.N. (2002) A review of the flyingfishes of the subgenus Danichthys (genus Hirundichthys, Exocoetidae). Journal of Ichthyology 42(Suppl. 1), S23S44.
Parin, N.V. and Kukuev, E.I. (1983) Re-establishment of the validity of Lampris immaculata Gilchrist and the geographical distribution of Lampridae. Voprosy Ikhtiologii 23, 114.
Pawson, D.L. (1978) The echinoderm fauna of Ascension Island, South Atlantic Ocean. Smithsonian Contributions to Marine Sciences 2, 131.
Pietsch, T.W. and Grobecker, D.B. (1987) Frogfishes of the world. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Pinheiro, H.T., Gasparini, J.L. and Joyeux, J.-C. (2010) Reef fish mass mortality event in an isolated island off Brazil, with notes on recent similar events at Ascension, St Helena and Maldives. Marine Biodiversity Records 3, e47.
Post, A. and Quéro, J.-C. (1981) Révision des Diretmidae (Pisces, Trachichthyoidei) de l'Atlantique avec description d'un nouveau genre et d'une nouvelle espèce. Cybium 5, 3360.
Quéro, J.-C., Hureau, J.-C., Karrer, C., Post, A. and Saldanha, L. (1990) Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic. CLOFETA. Paris: UNESCO.
Rangel, C.A., Gasparini, J.L. and Guimaraes, R.Z.P. (2004) A new species of combtooth blenny Scartella Jordan, 1886 (Teleostei: Blenniidae) from Trindade Island, Brazil. Aqua Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 8, 8996.
Robertson, D.R., Karg, F., De Moura, R.L., Victor, B.C. and Bernardi, G. (2006) Mechanisms of speciation and faunal enrichment in Atlantic parrotfishes. Molecular Phylogenetic and Evolution 40, 795807.
Rocha, L.A., Bass, A.L., Robertson, D.R. and Bowen, B.W. (2002) Adult habitat preferences, larval dispersal, and the comparative phylogeography of three Atlantic surgeonfishes (Teleostei: Acanthuridae). Molecular Ecology 11, 243252.
Rocha, L.A., Rocha, C.L., Robertson, D.R. and Bowen, B.W. (2008) Comparative phylogeography of Atlantic reef fishes indicates both origin and accumulation of diversity in the Caribbean. BMC Evolutionary Biology 8, 157.
Rosewater, J. (1975) An annotated list of the marine molluscs of Ascension Island, South Atlantic Ocean. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 189, 141.
Rudorff, C.A.G., Lorenzzetti, J.A., Gherardi, D.F.M. and Lins-Oliveira, J.E. (2009) Application of remote sensing to the study of pelagic spiny lobster larval transport in the tropical Atlantic. Brazilian Journal of Oceanography 57, 716.
Smith-Vaniz, W.F. and Carpenter, K.E. (2007) Review of the crevalle jacks, Caranx hippos complex (Teleostei: Carangidae), with a description of a new species from West Africa. Fishery Bulletin 105, 207233.
Stramma, L. (1991) Geostrophic transport of the South Equatorial Current in the Atlantic. Journal of Marine Research 49, 281294.
Stramma, L. and Schott, F. (1999) The mean flow field of the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Deep Sea Research II 46, 279303.
Trunov, I.A. (1976) New species and new records of the families Serranidae, Emmelichthyidae and Ariommidae in the off-shore tropical Atlantic. Voprosy Ikhtiologii 16, 263273 [In Russian].
Trunov, I.A. (2006) Ichthyofauna of seamounts around the island of Ascension and St. Helena Island (Atlantic Ocean). Journal of Ichthyology 46, 493499.
Vaske, T.J., de Lima, K.L., Ribeiro, A.C.B. and Lessa, R.P. (2008) Record of the St. Helena deepwater scorpionfish, Pontinus nigropunctatus (Günther) (Scorpaeniformes: Scorpaenidae) in the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, Brazil. Pan-American Journal of Aquatic Sciences 3, 4648.
Wirtz, P., Brito, A., Falcón, J., Freitas, R., Fricke, R., Monteiro, V., Reiner, F. and Tariche, O. (2013) The coastal fishes of the Cape Verde Islands – new records and an annotated check-list. Spixiana 36, 113142.
Wirtz, P., Ferreira, C.E.L., Floeter, S.R., Fricke, R., Gasparini, J.L., Iwamoto, T., Rocha, L.R., Sampaio, C.L.S. and Schliewen, U. (2007) Coastal fishes of São Tomé and Principe islands, Gulf of Guinea (eastern Atlantic Ocean) – an update. Zootaxa 1523, 148.


The fishes of Ascension Island, central Atlantic Ocean – new records and an annotated checklist

  • Peter Wirtz (a1), Jane Bingeman (a2), John Bingeman (a2), Ronald Fricke (a3) (a4), Timothy J. Hook (a5) and Jimmy Young (a6)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed