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Guide to Sea of Cortez Fish Species

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Guide to travel, activities, organisms, and ecology of the Sea of Cortez

Cortez Damselfish
Stegastes rectifraenum

Cortez Damselfish Stegastes rectifraenum

Intermediate Phase - note the blue scales on the head and in patches along the body.

Description and Size 
Juvenile stage to 2 inches, adults to 5 inches.  Like many damselfishes, the Cortez damselfish show tremendous changes in coloration between juvenile and adult stages.  Juveniles are a bright iridescent purple or blue, while adults become a muddy brown.   

Identifying Features
Stegastes damselfishes are identified by the presence of serrated margins on the preopercule and on the suborbital.  

Range
Endemic to the Sea of Cortez, it is found as far north as Puertocito, and as far south as Bahia Magdalena.  It is most common in the central Gulf, where it is regionally abundant.    

Habitat
Both adults and juveniles are found over rocky outcroppings where they establish and defend their territories vigorously. 

Behavior and Ecology
Adults are highly territorial and will not hesitate to nip a divers hand if it dares intrude into their space.  While they will defend against other damsels, including sergeant majors, they will allow the brightly colored juveniles to pass through their territories relatively unmolested. 

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Updated August 28, 2009

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