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Pegasus volitans

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA ACTINOPTERYGII GASTEROSTEIFORMES PEGASIDAE

Scientific Name: Pegasus volitans
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Shorttail Dragonfish
Synonym(s):
Cataphractus anceps Gronow, 1854
Pegasus natans Linnaeus (ex Gronow), 1766
Pegasus pristis Bleeker, 1852
Pegasus volans Linnaeus, 1766

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-12-15
Assessor(s): Sorensen, M. & Vincent, A.
Reviewer(s): Curtis, J. & O’Donnell, K.
Justification:

P. volitans has been listed as Data Deficient because there is no population or fisheries information available to make an assessment. More study is needed to determine changes in population numbers. A listing of Data Deficient does not imply that the species is not threatened, but instead that not enough information exists to estimate extinction risk. P. volitans may be susceptible to increased fishing pressure for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as other economically important target species, including seahorses, decline. This could result in more fishers collecting sea moths to supplement their income (Vincent 1997). P. volitans also occurs at low densities (Pajaro et al. 2004) and possesses life history characteristics that may make it particularly sensitive to exploitation (Vincent 1997). The application of Data Deficient is a call for more research and scrutiny to be directed at this species.

History:
1996 Data Deficient (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Data Deficient

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

P. volitans occurs throughout the Indo-West Pacific: Delagoa Bay, Mozambique to Saudi Arabia (Persian Gulf) and throughout Gulf of Manaar to Bay of Bengal; along the east coast of Myanmar; north to Japan, south to tropical Australia and Papua New Guinea (Froese and Pauly 2009).

Countries:
Native:
Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); Bahrain; China; India; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia (Sarawak); Mozambique; Myanmar; Oman; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Viet Nam
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Indian Ocean – western; Pacific – northwest; Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The lack of data for population sizes of pegasids such as P. volitans that was highlighted by Vincent (1997) still exists. One study recorded P. volitans in low densities (Smith 1986).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

P. volitans is reported to reach a maximum of 180 mm (Palsson and Pietsch 1989) and inhabits muddy and sandy bottoms where they are often found in association with prawns (Conlu 1986). They are usually found between 2–30 m depth, but have also been found on the surface and at a depth of 73 m (Palsson and Pietsch 1989).
 

Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Noted for sale in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shops, P. volitans are sold whole and dried and are traded internationally (Vincent 1997).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Sea moths may possess characteristics that make them unsuited to heavy exploitation, such as low population densities and established long-term pair bonds of one male and one female that mate repeatedly (Kuiter 1985, Herold and Clark 1993).

Sea moth species began appearing in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the 1980s, and are now traded by several South East Asian countries, including southern China and Hong Kong, although the scale and impact of the trade remains unclear (Lourie et al.1999, Vincent 1997).

P. volitans is caught incidentally in illegal trawl gear in the Philippines and is sold for use in TCM (Pajaro et al. 2004). Approximately 130,000–620,000 P. volitans were landed in north-western Bohol, central Visayas region of the Philippines in 1996, with an additional ~42,000–62,000 caught for the live aquarium trade (Pajaro et al. 2004).

Total bycatch in the Philippines was significantly female biased, with only 36% males (Pajaro et al. 2004). Given the reported monogamy amongst sea moths (Herold and Clark 1993) this could reduce the proportion of paired males thereby reducing the effective population size.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: P. volitans may be found in some Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Philippines as well as Australia. No other conservation measures are known.

Citation: Sorensen, M. & Vincent, A. 2010. Pegasus volitans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 03 September 2014.
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