Whitefin Sharksucker

Whitefin Sharksucker, Echeneis neucratoides

The Whitefin Sharksucker, Echeneis neucratoides, whose common Spanish name is rémora filoblanco, is a species in the Remora or Echeneidae Family, known collectively as remoras and pega pega in Mexico. Globally, there are only two species in the genus Echeneis, both of which are found in Mexican waters, this fish from the Atlantic and one from both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Whitefin Sharksucker has a long slim body that is eleven to twelve times longer than it is deep. They are a dark gray to grayish brown color with a dark belly. They have a broad darker brown or dark gray stripe with white edges on each side that extends from the jaw to the base of the caudal fin. The anal and dorsal fins are dark gray or black with white margins; the caudal fin is forked and has distinct white corners (for which they are named); the pectoral and pelvic fins are black with or without black edges. The lower jaw projects well beyond the upper jaw. The anal and dorsal fins originate at mid body and taper to the base of the caudal fin. The pectoral fins are located high on the sides of the body with the upper margins overlapping the edge of the disc. Males cannot be easily differentiated from females. Their head has a convex lower and a flat upper profile with mid-sized black eyes and a modest sized disc that is 23 to 28% of standard length and reaches the just past the pectoral fin base with 16 to 28 lamellae.

The Whitefin Sharksucker is oceanic pelagic fish that either travel attached to their hosts (large fish, dolphins, rays, sharks, turtles, whales and ships) or are free swimming over shallow coral reefs. They are poor swimmers and feed primarily on food scraps from their hosts as well as small crustaceans and parasite attached to the hosts skin. They are found from the surface to depths up to 150 feet both inshore and off shore environments. They reach a maximum length of 75 cm (30 inches). Reproduction is oviparous with external fertilization; the large spherical pelagic eggs are released enclosed in a hard case.

In Mexican waters the Whitefin Sharksuckers are found in all waters of the Atlantic.

The Whitefin Sharksucker is an easy fish to identify due to its lamellae count and the stripes along its flank. It is, however, somewhat similar to the Sharksucker, Echeneis naucrates (narrow white caudal fin margins) and the Slender Suckerfish, Phtheirichthys lineatus (9 to 11 disc plates, narrow white bars on flanks).

The Whitefin Sharksucker is not of significant commercial or recreational importance and is more of a curiosity than anything else.

Whitefin Sharksucker, Echeneis neucratoides. Fish caught from coastal waters off Placida, Florida, February 2017. Length: 23 cm (9.2 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Whitefin Sharksucker, Echeneis neucratoides. Fish caught from coastal waters off Key West, Florida, August 2014. Length: 43 cm (17 inches). Photo courtesy of Dean Kimberly, Atlanta, GA.