Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009 : A New Blind Cave Fish Subspecies from Wadi Al Wurayah Pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

By: Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa

 

Note: This article was published in "Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin". ISSN 0178 - 6288. Number 90, Twenty-seventh Year, June 2009. pp. 1 - 15. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

The newly discovered Emirati Blind Cave Fish (Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009) at Wadi Al Wurayah pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Foto: Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa. 26.06.2009.

http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/mypics/1213259/display/17807371

Abstract:

A new subspecies of Blind Cave Fish of the genus Garra (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) from Wadi Al Wurayah pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates is described. This subspecies is distinguished from the other three subspecies of Garra barreimiae living in Bahrain, Oman and United Arab Emirates, by its distinctive body colouration and the small size. It is morphologically and geographically distinct from the other subspecies. The new subspecies was named Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009.

During a field trip to Wadi Al Wurayah, the U.A.E.’s first mountain protected area, located in Al Hajar Mountains, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, on Friday the 26th June 2009, accompanied with my wife Ola and my daughter Nora, I inspected Wadi Al Wurayah pools and waterfall, and saw many blind cave fish (Garra barreimiae Fowler and Steinitz, 1956) swimming in the pool waters. These fish were observed, examined and measured.

Description and Distinctive Features:

After examining Garra barreimiae at the pools of Wadi Al Wurayah, I began comparing between the different Arabian Blind Cave Fish subspecies. There are three Garra barreimiae subspecies living in the Arabian Peninsula: The two Omani Blind Cave Fish subspecies Garra barreimiae barreimiae Fowler & Steinitz, 1956, from Al Buraimi Oasis; and Garra barreimiae gallagheri Krupp, 1988, from Seeq and Wadi Bani Khalid north of Muqal; and the Emirati Blind Cave Fish subspecies Garra barreimiae shawkahensis Banister and Clarke, 1977, from Wadi Shawkah, Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

Garra barreimiae, named after the Al Buraimi Oasis, Oman, is by far the most common native freshwater fish species found in the United Arab Emirates. In many wadis Garra barreimiae is the only fish present. The Wadi Al Wurayah subspecies Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009, have a small size. Young specimens are 1-4 centimeters, and adults are 4.5–7 centimeters. They are mottled brown in colour, typically dark but varying somewhat with the surroundings. Larger adults sometimes show more colourful red, white or blue markings, probably related to breeding status.

Distribution:

Garra barreimiae is endemic to Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and northern Oman. Separate subspecies have been recognized on the east and west flanks of the Hajar Mountains, respectively, but these cannot be distinguished by field observation alone. The subspecies Garra barreimiae wurayahi is endemic to Wadi Al Wurayah, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. The genus Garra is known from East Africa to South Asia and several other Garra species are endemic to the mountains of south-western Arabia, but the closest relatives of Garra barreimiae is thought to be the newly discovered Omani Garra smarti, and the Irani Garra persica, which is widespread in southern Iran.

Natural History and Habitat:

Garra barreimiae has a behavioural tendency to explore upstream, which probably facilitates dispersal when the wadis flow. Smaller adults have been observed to climb several meters up waterfalls, using the wet surface of the splash zone adjacent to the main flow of water, sometimes wriggling, sometimes jetting forward, resting periodically with pectoral fins spread, the mouth plate engaged for suction, and the tail twisted and pressed flat against the rock.

They feed on detritus and algae and have a specialized mouth plate that functions as a suction device. They resemble aquarium catfish as they nuzzle their way over gravel and rock surfaces, but they dart about frantically when approached in shallow pools where they are vulnerable to terrestrial and avian predators.

Little is known about the life history of G. barreimiae in the wild. Several anecdotal reports exist of the release of eggs and sperm during transport of specimens, provoking speculation that spawning may be triggered by turbulence, mimicking that of a wadi in spate. G. barreimiae will cannibalize its own eggs if conditions permit. Experiments have shown that G. barreimiae can tolerate water temperatures up to ca. 40ºC (104ºF) and salinity up to one-third that of sea water, but they usually live in water temperature between 18°C - 24°C, and pH range: 6.5 - 7.5; and dH range: 10 – 20.

Garra and the Locals:

Garra barreimiae is caught and eaten by human residents of the Hajar Mountains, even today. The normal technique employs a V-shaped stone dam to channel the fish onto a portable sieve-like platform made from palm ribs, wire mesh or nylon netting. This can be very effective, eliminating all but the very smallest fish in the area, but only G. barreimiae is taken for food, even when other species are present.

Status:

Vulnerable (IUCN).

Two Emirati Blind Cave Fish (Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009) at Wadi Al Wurayah pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Foto: Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa. 26.06.2009.

http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/mypics/1213259/display/17696974

Conclusion:

After examining the Garra barreimiae at Wadi Al Wurayah shallow pools, and comparing the different Arabian Blind Cave Fish subspecies, and referring to many zoological references, and searching the Internet, I came finally to a conclusion that we are in front of a new subspecies of the Blind Cave Fish from Wadi Al Wurayah pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

I gave it the scientific name Garra barreimiae wurayahi, new subspecies. The subspecies name “wurayahi” is Latin for Wadi Al Wurayah.

Garra barreimiae wurayahi, new subspecies:

Scientific trinomial name: Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009.

Authority: Dr. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa.

Common Names: Emirati Blind Cave Fish, Wadi Al Wurayah Blind Cave Fish, Wadi Al Wurayah Fish.

Holotype: Gbw-1, Dr. Norman Ali Khalaf-von Jaffa's Collection.

Location: Wadi Al Wurayah pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

Date of capture: 26th June, 2009.

Acknowledgments:

A Special thanks is due to my wife Ola Mostafa Khalaf, who assisted me with the preparation of the photos for this scientific article; and to both my wife and daughter Nora Norman Ali Khalaf, who shared with me the field trip to Wadi Al Wurayah, and gave me the opportunity to discover a new Emirati Blind Cave Fish Subspecies.

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Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). Whale Sharks in Palestinian Waters: Whale Sharks (Rhincodon typus, Smith 1828) near Um Al-Rashrash (Eilat) Beach, Gulf of Aqaba, South Palestine: First Records from the Palestinian Red Sea Coast. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 71, November 2007. pp. 23-26. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Abstract in English and Arabic).
http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Whale_Shark_Palestine.html                                                                        Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2007). An Ocean Sunfish or Common Mola (Mola mola, Linnaeus 1758) caught off the coast of Gaza: The First Record from Palestine, East Mediterranean Sea. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 72, December 2007, pp. 1-16. (Abstracts in English and Arabic). http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Gaza_Ocean_Sunfish.html                                                                   Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Zoologist, Ecologist and Geologist : The Scientific References (1980-2008).      http://www.geocities.com/jaffacity/Khalaf_References.html                                                          Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr.Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2009). A Longcomb Sawfish (Pristis zijsron Bleeker, 1851) caught off the coast of Dibba, United Arab Emirates, Gulf of Oman. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. Number 88, April 2009, Rabi’e Al Thani 1430 AH. pp. 1-14.        http://dibba-sawfish.webs.com/                                                                                                                                               Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr.Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2009). Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009 : A New Blind Cave Fish Subspecies from Wadi Al Wurayah Pools, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin. ISSN 0178 - 6288. Number 90, Twenty-seventh Year, June 2009, Jumada Al-Akhera 1430 AH. pp. 1-15. Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. http://emirati-blind-cave-fish.webs.com/                                                                              Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr.Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2009). Taxon Profile: Subspecies: Emirati Blind Cave Fish Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009. BioLib. www.biolib.cz/en/taxon/id655310/                                                                                                       Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa, Dr.Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher (2009). Wikipedia-Arabic. Samaket Al Kuhouf Al Amya’a Al Emaratiya (Emirati Blind Cave Fish). (in Arabic). http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D8%B3%D9%85%D9%83%D8%A9_%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%87%D9%88%D9%81_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%A1_%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A9#.D9.88.D8.B5.D9.84.D8.A7.D8.AA_.D8.AE.D8.A7.D8.B1.D8.AC.D9.8A.D8.A9                              Khalaf, Dr. Norman Ali (2009). The Discovery of a new subspecies of fish from Wadi Al Wurayah in Fujairah. Al Bayan Newspaper, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 14.07.2009. (In Arabic). http://www.albayan.ae/servlet/Satellite?c=Page&cid=1243170685425&pagename=Albayan%2FReaderComment%2FDisplay3                        Khalaf-von Jaffa, Dr. Norman Ali (2009). Your Latest Photos: Emirati Cave Fish. 7 Days Newspaper, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Friday 17 July, 2009. http://www.7days.ae/cjphoto.php?id=240&title=Emirati%20Cave%20Fish                                                                                                   Krupp, F. (1983). Freshwater Fishes of Saudi Arabia and Adjacent Regions of the Arabian Peninsula, Fauna of Saudi Arabia, v. 5, pp. 568-636.                                                                                                             New Garra discovered in Oman.   www.newstin.co.uk/rel/uk/en-010-014596370                                                                                                                                                          PISC_TYP.             www.nmb.bs.ch/typenkatalog_pisces_internetversion.xls                                             Pound, Geoff (2009). Scientist Claims to Have Found New Species of Fish in Fujairah. Fujairah In Focus. Monday, July 6, 2009. http://fujairahinfocus.blogspot.com/2009/07/scientist-claims-to-have-found-new.html                                                                                                                                                                      Wadi Wurayah becomes the UAE’s first protected mountain area. www.surfbirds.com/sbirdsnews/archives/2009/04/wadi_wurayah_be.html                                                       Wadi Wurayah becomes UAE’s first mountain protected area.  www.uaeinteract.com/docs/Wadi_Wurayah_becomes_UAE%E2%80%99s_first_mountain_protected_area_/35448.htm                                                                                                        Wadi Wurayah becomes the UAE’s first mountain protected area.   ww.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/wadi-Wurayah.html#cr29/04/200911:07:52                                                                                                        Wikipedia. Wadi Wurayah.       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wadi_Wurayah                                                                            Wikipedia. Garra barreimiae. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garra_barreimiae                                                                                             7 Days Newspaper. Scientist unearths something fishy on family trip. Page 4. Thursday, July 9, 2009. 7 Days Newspaer, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Wadi Al Wurayah shallow pool, the habitat of the Emirati Blind Cave Fish (Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009). Foto: Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa. 26.06.2009.

Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa

Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Ali Taher Khalaf-Sakerfalke von Jaffa is a Palestinian/German Zoologist, Ecologist and Geologist. Born in Saarbrücken, Saarland, Germany in 1962. Finished School in Kuwait. Studied Zoology, Geology and Ecology for the Bachelor, Master and Doctorate degrees at the Universities of Kuwait, Durham (England) and Ashwood (USA). Specialised in Animal Behaviour and Ecology. Done a lot of work and research in the Universities of Kuwait, Durham and Saarbrücken; and in the Zoos, Wild Parks and Field Studies in Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, England, Scotland, Jersey Island, France, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

He is the author and publisher of "Gazelle : The Palestinian Biological Bulletin", the first Palestinian scientific journal worldwide (since 1983); and the author of five books: Gazelle: The Palestinian Biological Bulletin (2004) & Aquatica Arabica (2005) & Mammalia Arabica (2006) & Felidae Arabica (2007) & Carnivora Arabica (2008).

He discovered and scientifically named three new animal subspecies. Two Palestinian mammal subspecies from the Gaza Strip: The Palestine Golden Jackal (Canis aureus palaestina Khalaf, 2008) and the Gaza or Palestine House Mouse (Mus musculus gazaensis Khalaf, 2007); and a freshwater fish subspecies: The Emirati or Wadi Al Wurayah Blind Cave Fish (Garra barreimiae wurayahi Khalaf, 2009) from the Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.

He is working now as a free scientific researcher and publisher in the United Arab Emirates. He is married to Ola Khalaf and has a ten year old daughter, Nora.

Dr. Sc. Norman Ali Bassam Khalaf-von Jaffa standing in front of Wadi Al Wurayah, Dibba, Emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. Foto: Ola Mostafa Khalaf, 26.06.2009.