Vacuoqua Croaker, Corvula macrops
The Vacuoqua Croaker, Corvula macrops, whose common Spanish name is corvineta vacuoqua, is a member of the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas and corvinas in Mexico. Globally, there in only three species in the genus Corvula, and all three are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.
The Vacuoqua Croakers have short oblong compressed bodies. Their upper body has a silvery dark gray coloration with faint stripes or rows of dots along the scale rows above the lateral line. They have a dark pectoral fin axis, black anal and pelvic fins, and a dark lining behind the front teeth of their lower jaw. Their head is short with a blunt snout, moderately-sized eyes, and a moderately-sized recessed oblique mouth. Their mouth has small conical teeth arranged in bands. Their gill cover is smooth. They do not have barbels, but have five pores. Their anal fin has two spines, the second of which being robust and 75% of the length of the first anal ray, and 9 to 11 rays; their caudal fin has a straight or slightly rounded margin; their dorsal fin has 10 or 11 spines followed by one or two spines and 24 to 27 rays with a deep notch between the two parts; and their pectoral fins are short and do not reach the tip of the pelvic fins. They have 22 to 26 gill rakers and their body is covered with rough scales.
The Vacuoqua Croakers are found in rocky coastal areas near the bottom at depths up to 50 feet. They reach a maximum length of 25 cm (10 inches). They are a poorly studies species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
The Vacuoqua Croakers have a limited distribution in Mexican waters being found at the extreme southern tip of Baja and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.
The Vacuoqua Croaker can be confused with the Bigeye Croaker, Umbrina bussingi (21 to 23 dorsal fin rays; long pectoral fins; black inside gill cover), the Black Croaker, Cheilotrema saturnum (oblique head profile; wide black band on gill cover upper half), and the Shortnose Stardrum, Stellifer chrysoleuca (overhanging snout; six chin pores; eight or nine anal fin rays).
The Vacuoqua Croaker is small and fairly rare and of limited interest to most with the exception that they are retained by subsistence fishermen.
Vacuoqua Croaker, Corvula macrops. Fish caught off the beach at Km 21, Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, June 2007. Length: 20 cm (7.9 inches). Fish identification courtesy of Dr. Ross Robertson, The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.