Sand tilefish

Keck Geology Consortium

Tilefish Project

tilefish mound
Project Description

    Sand tilefish (Malacanthus plumieri) inhabit shallow-water environments and build mounds of rubble over their burrows to protect against predators and erosion by high-energy waves.  Previous studies have examined the behavior and ecology of shallow-water tilefish, but relatively little is known about the sedimentology of the mounds or the impacts of tilefish on the sedimentary processes.  Although tilefish have been around since the early Tertiary, their mounds are not well recognized in the geological record.  In Cozumel, most tilefish mounds are constructed of rhodoliths and fragments of coral and mollusk shells.  Preliminary investigations suggest that mound size decreases with water depth and that fragment size within mounds also decreases with increasing water depth.  A primary objective of this project is to characterize the sedimentary aspects of tilefish mounds and to understand how these relate to environmental conditions.


Abstract of poster presented in the Carbonate Session of the GSA Meeting in Seattle
Photographs from the Field
Download a Description and List of Suggested Gear (PDF format)
Photographs of tilefish and mounds
QuickTime movie clips of tilefish (long and short)
Photographs of Cozumel marine organisms
SEM photographs (1, 2, 3, 4) of forams & spicules from Cozumel
Distribution of grain sizes in Cozumel sand
Nautical chart of Villa Blanca Wall (small and large jpegs)
Nautical charts of north, northwest, west, and south coasts (72 dpi)
Nautical charts of north, northwest, west, and south coasts (250 dpi)
PADI - Professional Association of Diving Instructors
DAN - Divers Alert Network


Steve Ballou 
Carol Mankiewicz
Karl Wirth
Project Links Description of Tilefish Project at the Keck Geology Consortium
REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation)
Check out the Fish ID quiz and Gallery at the REEF website
Lots of fish information at FishBase
A direct link to the sand tilefish page at FishBase
Photos of coral reef creatures at ReefImages
Contemplating a meal of tilefish?  Check Seafood Choices first!
An Introduction to the Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Satellite image of Chicxulub Crater, Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel

Cozumel Links

Our dive operator - Papa Hogs Scuba Eporium
Our lodging at the  Hogtown Motel
Lonely Planet's Online Guide to Cozumel
Cozumel and Emergency Info at Travelnotes
Hyperbaric Chambers: Buceo Medico Mexicana & Cozumel Hyperbaric Research
Weather in Cozumel from Wunderground
Current Satellite Image Map from the Weather Channel