Published: March 17, 2015

Fishes in Guatemala - Peten II

Caleb McMahan, Head of Zoological Collections; Collections Manager, Fishes, Gantz Family Collections Center


After making our way to El Remate, along the shore of Lago Peten-Itza, we settled and prepared to start our sampling of the region.   We started the morning by collecting from the shore of the lake with cast nets and seines.  We collected several cichlid species that were targets for some ichthyologists in the group, such as Thorichthys affinis, ‘Cichlasoma’ urophthalmum, Petenia splendida, and Paraneetroplus melanurus.

Of particular interest was a species of livebearing fish (family Poeciliidae) – Poecilia petenensis – that occurs in the lakes.  We were able to collect several specimens of this fish and take some nice live photographs.

After sampling along the shore of Lago Peten-Itza, we drove about an hour away from El Remate to sample Lago Yaxha.  This lake, as well as the others in the region, shares a history with each other and with the Rio Usumacinta that forms part of the border between Guatemala and Mexico.  Lago Yaxha is an incredible lake, and is part of Yaxha-Nakun-Naranjo National Park and Mayan archeological site, this park is co-managed by the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) and National Institute of Anthropology and History –IDAEH.  The generous staff at this park allowed us to collect in the lake.  We found similar species, as expected, but also collected several additional specimens of Dorosoma petenensis.  This shad species occurs from these lakes of northern Guatemala all the way to Gulf Coast rivers of the United States.

Many thanks to Luis Guerra, Director of the Yaxha-Nakun-Naranjo National Park, and his staff for their invaluable collaboration in this protected area, and the staff of La Casa de Don David at El Remate, Peten!