Journal article Open Access
Victor, Benjamin C.; Ianniello, Linda
For almost a century, a single small holotype specimen of the searobin Prionotus murielae Mowbray, 1928 from Bahamas has been considered a valid species. The diagnostic character for the species is two long filamentous uppermost pectoral-fin rays, otherwise every author agreed it was essentially the same as the Bandtail Searobin, Prionotus ophryas Jordan & Swain, 1885. Recent underwater photographs show juvenile P. ophryas have a filamentous uppermost pectoral-fin ray and a juvenile specimen from trawls in the Gulf of Mexico has the two long filamentous rays. The specimen was sequenced for the mtDNA-barcode COI marker and it matched all other P. ophryas sequences available. The early stages of P. ophryas are documented here, with a spectacularly colorful, newly settled stage with bright-blue fin spots. The pelagic larvae also show the blue spots, and a transforming individual, showing all the features of a juvenile, was photographed while still pelagic in deep waters off South Florida. The larval stage closely resembles the larvae of the invasive lionfish, Pterois volitans, but has a different color pattern, number, and arrangement of pectoral-fin rays.