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Sea of Cortez 810

Family Tripterygiidae
Triplefin blennies
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned)
Order: Perciformes
Suborder Blennioidei

Key Features:
Triplefin blennies are small blennioid fishes that while often abundant in the Sea of Cortez, are not particularly speciose.  Identification of this family is based on the presence of a divided dorsal fin with three distinct regions, the absence of supraorbital cirri in most species, and prominent ctenoid scales. 

Notable Species in the Sea of Cortez

Crocodilichthys gracilis
Lizard Triplefin
Axoclinus nigricaudus
Cortez Triplefin
Axoclinus carminalis
Carmine Triplefin
Enneanectes sexmaculatus
Delicate Triplefin
Enneanectes reticulatus
Flag Triplefin
Enneanectes sp (Undescribed sp.)
Network Triplefin

carmine Triplefin Blenny Axoclinus carminalis Baja, Mexico

Axoclinus carminalis
Carmine Triplefin Blenny

Isla Tortuga
Baja, Mexico

Baja News and Views for Scuba Divers



Family Tripterygiidae
Triplefin blennies (tres aletas)

The triplefin blennies may be most easily identified by their dorsal fin being divided into three distinct regions.  In addition, the supraorbital cirri are reduced or absent in most species of triplefin blennies. 

Compared to other blennioid fishes, the triplefins are represented by relatively few species in the Sea of Cortez.  Six species in three genera are known within the Gulf.  One of the most commonly encountered triplefins by scuba divers is the lizard triplefin, Crocodilichthys gracilis.  This is the largest of the Gulf triplefins and displays an overall reddish hue with a distinctive black stripe immediately anterior to the caudal fin.  The black stripe is then preceded by a white stripe.  Surrounding the eye is a striking red pattern with black stripes extending towards the pupil.  This triplefin is endemic to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, and is found from Cabo San Lucas north to beyond the Midriff Islands. 

The most common triplefin in the Sea of Cortez is the Cortez triplefin, Axoclinus nigricaudus.  This blenny shares a similar distribution to the lizard triplefin, from Cabo San Lucas to Rocas Consag.  However, it has a much more blunted head than the lizard triplefin and exists more commonly in the intertidal zone, rather than in subtidal areas. The reverse is true for the lizard triplefin, which is common on subtidal boulders, especially along offshore islands but is uncommon along the coast, particularly in shallow areas. 


Updated August 28, 2009

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