Snake eels (Ophichthidae) of the remote St. Peter and St. Paul’s Archipelago (Equatorial Atlantic): Museum records after 37 years of shelf life


  • OSMAR J. LUIZ Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0810 Australia



Despite of its major zoogeographical interest, the biological diversity of central Atlantic oceanic islands are still poorly known because of its remoteness. Incomplete species inventories are a hindrance to macroecology and conservation because knowledge on species distribution are important for identifying patterns and processes in biodiversity and for conservation planning. Records of the snake-eel family Ophichthidae for the St. Peter and St. Paul’s Archipelago, Brazil, are presented for the first time after revision of material collected and deposited in a museum collection 37 yrs ago. Specimens of Apterichtus kendalli and Herpetoichthys regius were collected using rotenone on sand bottoms and one Myrichthys sp. was observed and photographed swimming over a rocky reef. Remarkably, these species were not seen or collected in the St. Peter and St. Paul’s Archipelago ever since despite the substantial increase of biological expeditions over the past two decades, suggesting that the unjustified rotenone sampling prohibition in Brazil is hindering advancement of the nation’s biological diversity knowledge.