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Sea of Cortez 810

Family Sciaenidae
Croakers and Drums
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned)
Order: Perciformes

Key Features:
Members of the family Sciaenidae are commonly termed croakers or drums due to their abilities to make deep resonating sounds from their swim bladders.  Although there are approximately 30 species of croakers in the Sea of Cortez, only one, the rock croaker is encountered with any regularity by scuba divers.  The rest of the croakers prefer sandy bottoms or estuaries and surf zones.  Unlike other members of the order perciformes, a croakers’ lateral line extends across the caudal fin, rather than terminating with at the base of the tail.  Sciaenids also have separated dorsal fins (often elongate) and 1 or 2 anal spines.  One member of Sciaenidae deserves special note, the Totoaba, Totoaba macdonaldi.  A large fish, the totoaba can reach 5 feet and weigh 200 pounds.  Prized for its meat, the totoaba was hunted to near extinction and received the dubious distinction of being the first marine fish to be placed on the endangered species list in 1976.       

Notable Species in the Sea of Cortez

Pareques sp.
Rock Croaker
Totoaba macdonaldi
Cynoscion sp.
Umbrina wintersteeni
Cortez Croaker
Cynoscion othonopterum
Gulf Weakfish
Umbrina roncador
Yellowfin Drum

pareques juvenile rock croaker isla tortuga, baja mexico

Pareques sp.
Rock Croaker (juvenile)

Isla Tortuga, Baja, Mexico



Updated August 28, 2009

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