Amigo Stardrum, Stellifer wintersteenorum
The Amigo Stardrum, Stellifer wintersteenorum, whose common Spanish name is corvinilla amigable, is a member of the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas and corvinas in Mexico. This fish was only introduced to science in 2001. Globally, there are 24 species in the genus Stellifer, of which seven are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and five in the Pacific.
The Amigo Stardrums have oblong and compressed bodies. They are silvery with brown tinges dorsally and around their gill covers. They have a dark pectoral axis and their fins are uniformly dusky. Their head is low and broad with a wide flat space between their small eyes. They have a long bluntly pointed snout with a slightly projecting lower jaw. Their mouth is large and slightly oblique; it opens under the tip of the snout and is equipped with large villiform teeth set in bands. They have no barbels. Their chin and snout have four and eight pores, respectively. Their gill cover has two strong spines, the lower one being larger and angled downward. Their anal fin has a short base with two spines, the second being strong and equal in length to the first ray, and 8 to 10 rays; their caudal fin is rounded; their dorsal fins are deeply notched with the first fin having 10 to 12 spines and the second fin having one spine and 21 to 25 rays; their pectoral fins are long and pointed, and reach the anus; and their pelvic fins have a long filament. They have 36 to 41 long slender gill rakers. They have a prominent arched lateral line and are covered with rough scales.
The Amigo Stardrums are found demersal over muddy and sandy bottoms at depths up to 60 feet. They reach a maximum length of 21.0 cm (8.3 inches). They feed on marine worms and other epibenthic invertebrates. They are a poorly studied species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Amigo Stardrums are known only along the east coast of the mainland from the central Sea of Cortez southward to Mazatlán. The fish photographed below represents a significant range extension of this species to the southwest coast of Baja.
The Amigo Stardrum is most likely confused with the Hollow Stardrum, Stellifer ericymba (long pointed caudal fin) and the Professor Stardrum, Stellifer walkeri (lacks dark pectoral fin axis).
The Amigo Stardrums are exceedingly rare and seldom seen by humans. From a conservation perspective they are currently classified as Data Deficient.
Amigo Stardrum, Stellifer wintersteenorum. Fish caught within Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, May 2017. Length: 21.3 cm (8.4 inches).