Longspine Croaker

Longspine Croaker, Umbrina analis

The Longspine Croaker, Umbrina analis, whose common Spanish name is berrugata espinuda, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatras and corvinas in Mexico. Globally, there are eighteen species in the genus Umbrina, seven of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and six in the Pacific.

The Longspine Croakers have moderately elongated oblong slightly compressed bodies with a horizontal lower body profile. They have a uniform silvery coloration with a series of undulating oblique dark lines along their scale rows. Their fins are generally pale and their anal and pelvic fins have yellow tinges. They have high backs that are strongly curved at the front. Their head is broad, conical, and low and features a snout that is longer than the eye diameter and that opens in the front under a projecting snout. Their gill covers are finely serrated. Their chin has one short barbel with a pore at its tip and two pairs of pores at its base. Their gut cavity is pale. Their anal fin has a short base with two spines and 6 rays with the second spine (after which it is named) being stout and equal in length to the first ray; their caudal fin has a straight margin; their dorsal fin is deeply notched with 10 spines followed by another spine and 24 to 26 rays; their second dorsal fin has a long base; and their pectoral fins are short. They have 13 to 16 gill rakers and are covered with rough scales.

The Longspine Croakers are found demersal over sandy bottoms, in the surf zone, and in inshore bays at depths up to 165 feet. They reach a maximum length of 35 cm (14 inches). They are a poorly studied species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters of the Pacific they have a limited range being found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, from Loreto southward along the east coast of Baja, and along the coast of the mainland from Acapulco south to Guatemala.

The Longspine Croaker can be confused with the Cortez Croaker, Umbrina wintersteeni (second anal spine half the length of first anal fin ray; rounded caudal fin), the Surf Croaker, Umbrina xanti (thin second anal spine three-fourths length of first anal fin ray), and the Yellowfin Croaker, Umbrina roncador (second anal spine three-fourths length of first anal fin ray).

Although rare and small in stature, they are viewed by locals as excellent table fare.

f259-longspine-croaker-2Longspine Croaker, Umbrina analis. Fish caught in coastal waters off Puerto Adolfo Lopes Mateos within Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, October 2016. Length: 25 cm (10 inches).

Longspine Croaker, Umbrina analis. Fish caught in coastal waters with a cast net off Puerto Adolfo Lopes Mateos within Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, October 2017. Length: 26 cm (10 inches).