Genus Cores Lacepède.
Coris sandeyeri (Hector). (Plate LIV, fig. 2.)
Cymolutes sandeyeri Hector in Trans. N.Z. Inst., vol. 16, p. 323, 1884. Coris rex Ramsay and Ogilby, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., vol. 10, pt. iv, p. 850, 1886.
D. ix/XII; A. iii/XII; V. i/V; p. XIII; C. XIV. L. lat. 98.
A fine specimen of this handsome fish was caught by one of the assistant keepers at Cuvier Island lighthouse, near Auckland, in August, 1918. It was sent to Mr. T. F. Cheeseman, Curator of the Auckland Museum, for identification, and he handed it to me for examination. I came to the conclusion that it was similar to a fish very briefly described by the late Sir James Hector under the name of Cymolutes sandeyeri, reference to which is given above. If this is correct it is evident that Hector erred by placing it in the genus Cymolutes, for I found that it possessed strong anterior camnes in the angles of the mouth, whereas the genus Cymolutes has none. Not being quite sure of its identity, owing to the absence of comparative
material, I sent the specimen to Mr. A. R. McCulloch, the expert zoologist to the Australian Museum, Sydney, who recognized it at once as being the Coris rex of Ramsay and Ogilby. He suggested the possibility of Hector's type being the same species. I was fortunately able to obtain the loan of Hector's specimen from the Dominion Museum, and on making a comparison I found the two fishes to be identical, although Hector's specimen is somewhat the smaller. It is quite evident that the genus Cymolutes has not yet been found in New Zealand waters, and it is interesting to know that Coris sandeyeri, which is apparently very rare in museum collections, is a permanent resident with us. I have since heard that others have been taken at various times in the same locality. A fine description, with plate, by Mr. McCulloch is given in Rec. Aust. Mus., vol. 13, No. 2, p. 67, pl. xiv, fig 2, 1920, and to him I tender my best thanks for identification of the specimen and other valuable information. I also wish to express my thanks to Dr. J. Allan Thomson, Director of the Dominion Museum, for allowing me to examine Hector's type, and to Mr. W. J. Phillipps for his assistance.
For the convenience of students and for purposes of identification I am giving Mr. McCulloch's plate of Coris sandeyeri, with a brief description of my own and a colour-note made directly after the fish was captured.
Body oblong, compressed, covered with small cycloid scales. Its height is contained 3 ¾ in the total length. Head naked. Snout sharply conical, and the operculum produced into a broad flexible lobe. Mouth slightly oblique, with a double series of strong conical teeth in both jaws. The two anterior teeth in each project outwards as strong canines. A strong canine tooth in each angle of mouth. Gills 3½; gill-rakers 11, on lower half of anterior arch. Lateral line curves upwards towards dorsal fin anteriorly, reaching its highest point beneath the 4th and 5th spines. It continues straight for some distance, but commences to bend downwards towards the centre of the height under the 9th soft dorsal ray. Dorsal fin with its origin above centre of operculum, its margin somewhat rounded. Origin of anal fin vertically beneath the 2nd dorsal ray; it is similar to the dorsal in form. Caudal subtruncate, with its basal third covered with scales.
Colour.—In giving a description of the colour I am relying entirely on a chart of the Cuvier Island specimen which was drawn directly after its capture. Never having seen the fish alive myself, I am unable to say whether the particulars given below are accurate, but my informant seems to have taken considerable pains to make them so.
Tip of snout to centre of interocular light green, deepening gradually on the shoulders as far as the 1st dorsal spine to dark green. Preorbital anteriorly dark green; nearer the eye it is red. Cheeks below eye red. Lips flesh-colour. Behind the eye the upper portion of the preoperculum is pink to a level with the bottom of eye, and below that it is light green as far as its rounded angle. Operculum pale violet, the tip of flexible lobe being deep violet. There is a light-blue patch in the angle of the mouth. Lower jaw light blue anteriorly, deepening into violet on the suboperculum. There is a patch on the throat almost bare of scales which is dark blue. The first vertical band is black anteriorly, blending into deep violet posteriorly, but towards the ventral surface it becomes much paler. Second vertical band deep black throughout. The dorsal surface of the fish in front of, between, and behind the second vertical band, and extending as far as the base of the caudal, deep orange-red, lighter in middle of fish, but there
is a dark orange-red lateral streak about ½ in. in width above the base of anal fin. Membrane of the spinose dorsal light blue, the spines being deeper. Membrane of branched portion dark blue. There is a small light patch at base of 6th-7th spines of the dorsal, and a light band extends all along the base of the soft dorsal the colours of which have not been noted, but it appears as though it may have been pale orange-red. Pectorals dull orange tipped with dark blue. Caudal deep violet, a little lighter on margins. Ventral spines and rays dark blue, membrane light blue.
Measurements.—Total length, 380 mm.; total height, 100 mm.; length of head, 100 mm.; diameter of eye, 10 mm.; interocular space, 30 mm.
Loc.—Tiritiri Island, Hauraki Gulf; Cuvier Island, near Auckland; Bondi, near Sydney, N.S.W.