Biology, fishery and trade of sea moths (Pisces: Pegasidae) in the central Philippines

Publication Type: Journal Article

Year of Publication: 2004

Authors: Pajaro, MG, Meeuwig JJ, Giles BG, Vincent ACJ

Journal: Oryx

Volume: 38

Issue: 04

Date Published: 10/2004

ISSN: 1365-3008

Keywords: aquarium trade, Bycatch, Eurypegasus draconis, Pegasidae, Pegasus volitans, Philippines, sea moths, traditional medicine.


Sea moths (family Pegasidae) are little studied benthic fish, found throughout the Indo-Pacific. Two species of sea moths, Pegasus volitans and Eurypegasus draconis, are caught incidentally in illegal trawl gear in the Philippines and sold into the dried fish trade. Approximately 130,000–620,000 P. volitans and 130,000 E. draconis were landed off north-western Bohol alone in 1996. An additional 43,000–62,000 sea moths
(predominantly P. volitans) were caught live for the aquarium trade. Catch per unit effort for P. volitans was double that of E. draconis, probably because of its
occurrence in shallower waters where fishing effort was concentrated. Sea moths may be unsuited for heavy exploitation as they occur at low densities. Moreover, a
female-biased catch could lower the effective population size, given the reported monogamy amongst sea moths. No population data were available for a complete conservation assessment, although divers surveyed did report declines in their abundance.

DOI: 10.1017/S003060530400081X

Short Title: ORX