One of the most abundant Cephalopholis species in parts of its range (1)(4), the yellowfin hind is a moderately sized, relatively robust reef fish. The body varies in colour from brownish in shallow waters to red in deeper waters, and bears small, dark-edged blue spots on the head (especially on the lower part), the underside of the body, and on the caudal fin and the rear parts of the dorsal and anal fin. The rounded caudal fin and the rear parts of the dorsal fin and anal fin are darker than the body, while the pectoral fins are mostly brown, with a broad yellow margin, which gives the yellowfin hind its common name (2)(4)(5). Some individuals have a large yellowish area below the dorsal fin, or alternating dark and pale bars on the body, with dark blotches on the head (2)(5). The dorsal fin and anal fin bear a number of spines (2)(3)(4)(5).
The yellowfin hind of the Red Sea is smaller than its counterparts in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Gulf, and differs in the number of rays in the pectoral fins(2)(5). The species can be distinguished from the closely related Cephalopholis miniata and Cephalopholis sexmaculata, with which its range overlaps, by the lack of blue spots on the upper surface, the darker edges to the caudal fin, dorsal fin and anal fin, and the distinct yellow margin on the pectoral fins. This species also has a pointed rather than a rounded anal fin(2)(4).
Active during the day (2)(6)(7), the yellowfin hind is an ambush predator, typically lying in wait on the bottom, hiding among corals or in crevices, then darting out to attack passing prey, such as small fish and crustaceans(2)(3)(7). Like many members of the Serranidae family (4), this species may be capable of rapid colour changes, taking on a more disruptive, camouflaged pattern while lying in wait for prey (7).
While related species usually live in well-defined social units consisting of several adults led by a dominant male (6), the yellowfin hind, in contrast, is monogamous, with each breeding pair jointly defending a territory(8). Agonistic encounters may involve visual signals, such as a colour change to pale whitish in the ‘loser’ in the encounter (6). The yellowfin hind may live for up to 26 years (2), but little other information is available on the life history of this species.
The yellowfin hind appears to have a disjunctive distribution, being known with certainty only from the northern end of the Red Sea, and from the Arabian Gulf to the coast of Pakistan (1)(2)(4)(5). There are also recent records from Socotra (Yemen) and Somalia, although records from elsewhere are thought to be based on misidentifications of other species (1)(2)(4).
The yellowfin hind is found on coral reefs, where it typically occurs on patchy open reef or coral rubble areas, rather than on well developed coral reefs. It may also be found adjacent to reefs, and occurs at depths from 4 to at least 55 metres (1)(2)(3)(5)(6).
The yellowfin hind is not currently heavily fished, due to its small size (1)(2), although it is caught with hook and line as well as traps and spears in local subsistence fisheries (2)(3)(4). However, as larger fish species decline and are no longer economically viable to target, commercial fisheries are likely to focus more on species such as the yellowfin hind, potentially putting it at greater risk of overfishing in the future. Habitat loss is also a threat to this species (1).
There are no specific conservation measures currently in place for the yellowfin hind, and it is only protected by area management in the Dyminiyats Islands in the Gulf of Oman. Efforts are underway to try and control the number of fishing licences in Oman, where the species is more heavily fished, and the IUCN recommend that more Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) will be needed to help protect this colourful reef fish in the future (1).
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Heemstra, P.C. and Randall, J.E. (1993) FAO Species Catalogue. Volume 16. Groupers of the World (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of the Grouper, Rockcod, Hind, Coral Grouper, and Lyretail Species Known to Date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Vol. 16. Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome. Available at: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/t0540e/T0540E00.pdf
In fish, an unpaired fin on the under surface of a fish, behind the anus.
The tail fin of a fish.
Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
The unpaired fin found on the back of the body of fish, or the raised structure on the back of most cetaceans.
Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
In fish, the pair of fins that are found one on each side of the body just behind the gills. They are generally used for balancing and braking.
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
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