scientific article | Proc Calif Acad Sci
Randall JE, Westneat MW, Gomon MF
The fish family Labridae, popularly called wrasses, is the second largest family of marine fishes in the world (after the Gobiidae), with 453 species (Parenti and Randall 2000). Most species (82%) are found in the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific region, and ones previously unknown to biologists continue to be discovered. In a phylogenetic study of labrid fishes of the tribe Cheilinini, Westneat (1993) recognized two lineages, a “cheiline” lineage of five genera, all but one with species confined to the Indo-Pacific, and a “pseudocheiline” lineage. The genera of the “cheiline” lineage are Cheilinus, Doratonotus, Epibulus, Oxycheilinus, and Wetmorella. Oxycheilinus was proposed by Gill (1862) for Cheilinus arenatus Valenciennes. His genus was not recognized by Bleeker and Pollen (1874), Jordan and Snyder (1902), and later authors. However, Westneat provided characters to distinguish it from Cheilinus, and he has been followed by most recent authors. In addition to O. arenatus, Westneat classified the following species in Oxycheilinus: O. bimaculatus (Valenciennes), O. celebicus (Bleeker), O. digrammus (Lacepède), O. mentalis (Rüppell), O. orientalis (Günther), and O. unifasciatus (Streets). In 1971, while diving in 49 m off Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Islands, the first author speared an unknown labrid fish with narrow dark stripes that seemed to be a species of Cheilinus (Oxycheilinus then not separated from Cheilinus), but it tore free. Later the same year off Tahiti in 76 m he speared the same species, but again it escaped. Richard L. Pyle collected what is probably the same species while diving in 85 m off Rarotonga, Cook Islands in 1991 and made it available for our description. It clearly represents an undescribed species of Oxycheilinus. We also have nine specimens of a second new species of Oxycheilinus collected from 1988 to 2001 in the Chesterfield Bank of the Coral Sea, off New Caledonia, and New South Wales. The purpose of the present paper is to describe these two species to make the names available for a book on reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific that has been prepared by the first author. A revision of Cheilinus and Oxycheilinus is in progress by us which will provide a key, diagnoses, and illustrations of all the species.