Orangemouth Corvina, Cynoscion xanthulus
The Orangemouth Corvina, Cynoscion xanthulus, whose common Spanish name is corvina boquinaranja, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatras and corvinas in Mexico. Globally, there are twenty-four species in the genus Cynoscion, thirteen of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and ten in the Pacific.
The Orangemouth Corvinas have elongated fusiform compressed bodies with an oval cross-section. They have a silvery coloration with a blue tinge on their upper back. The inside of their mouth is bright yellow orange, their anal and caudal fins are yellow, and their pectoral fin base is dark. Their head has a pointed snout with a strongly oblique mouth that ends after the eyes. They have a pair of large pointed canine teeth at the front of their top jaw. The edge of their gill cover is smooth. They do not have pores or barbels on their chin. Their anal fin has two spines and 8 or 9 rays; their caudal fin has a blunt point; their dorsal fin has a long base with 9 spines followed by another spine and 19 or 20 rays with no gap between the two parts; their pectoral fins are short and do not reach the tip of the pelvic fins. They have 8 to 10 gill rakers and their body is covered with rough scales.
The Orangemouth Corvinas are found demersal over sandy bottoms in estuaries, open bays, and coastal waters at depths up to 165 feet. They reach a maximum length of 90 cm (35 inches) and 24 kg (54 pounds) in weight. They feed on small fish and shrimp.
In Mexican waters the Orangemouth Corvinas have a limited distribution being found from Guerrero Negro northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja. They are also found from Acapulco southward to Guatemala along the southwest coast of the mainland.
Note: a corvina with an orangemouth is not necessarily an Orangemouth Corvina! The Orangemouth Corvina can be confused with the Queen Corvina, Cynoscion albus (yellow mouth; pectoral fins longer than pelvic fins), the Scalyfin Corvina, Cynoscion squamipinnis (seven or eight dorsal spines; blunt tail), the Totoaba, Totoaba macdonaldi (23 to 25 dorsal rays), the White Seabass, Atractoscion nobilis (wide gap between dorsal fins), and the Yellowtail Corvina, Cynoscion stolzmanni (“S”-shaped caudal fin).
The Orangemouth Corvinas are fairly abundant in some locations and are sold commercially. They are an important food fish along the west coast of the mainland within the Sea of Cortez.
Orangemouth Corvina, Cynoscion xanthulus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, November 2014. Length: 30 cm (12 inches). Photo courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.
Orangemouth Corvina, Cynoscion xanthulus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2017. Length: 64 cm (24 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Kenneth Tse, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.