Golden Croaker, Micropogonias altipinnis
The Golden Croaker, Micropogonias altipinnis, whose common Spanish name is chano sureño, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas and corvinas in Mexico. The Golden Croaker is also commonly known as the Tailfin Croaker. There are only six global members of the genus Micropogonias, three of which are found Mexican waters, all in the Pacific.
The Golden Croakers have elongated moderately compressed bodies. They have a silvery coloration and a golden hue associated with the scale rows above the lateral line, which creates brown longitudinal streaks. Their fins are generally yellowish, however, their caudal and dorsal fins are dusky. Their head features a prominent snout, a small mouth under the snout, thin lips, simple teeth, relatively small eyes, four or five small barbels along the inner side of their lower jaw, and a strong serrated gill cover with two prominent spines. Their anal fin has two spines, the second being robust and longer than half the length of the first anal ray; their caudal fin has a short blunt point with a slightly concave upper lobe; their dorsal fin has ten spines followed by another spine and 19 to 23 rays with the first dorsal fin being tall and reaching beyond the origin of the second dorsal fin when depressed. They have 24 or 25 gill rakers and their body is covered with large scales.
The Golden Croakers are a benthopelagic species found along sandy shores and in bays, estuaries, and lagoons at depths up to 340 feet. They reach a maximum length of 80 cm (31 inches). They are voracious ambush predators feeding on small fish and squid.
The Golden Croakers are widespread in the Eastern Pacific. In Mexican waters, however they have a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja and in the southern half of the Sea of Cortez, and south along the coast of the mainland to Guatemala.
The Golden Croaker can be confused with the Gulf Croaker, Micropogonias megalops (27 to 29 dorsal rays; dark fins; maximum length 40 cm) and the Slender Croaker, Micropogonias ectenes (23 to 26 dorsal rays; dark fins; maximum length 40 cm).
The Golden Croakers are an esteemed food fish caught primarily with trawls and seines and sold fresh in local markets.
Golden Croaker, Micropogonias altipinnis. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, March 2013. Length: 76 cm (30 inches). Weight: 6.4 kg (14 pounds). Description and photo courtesy of Jason Potts, Mazatlán. Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.
Golden Croaker, Micropogonias altipinnis. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2016. Length: 48 cm (19 inches). Catch courtesy of Michael Ells, Big Rapids, MI. Photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.