Bigeye Bass

Bigeye Bass, Pronotogrammus eos

The Bigeye Bass, Pronotogrammus eos, whose common Spanish name is serrano ojón, and known locally as cabrilla, is a species in the Sea Bass or Serranidae Family, known collectively as serranos in Mexico. Globally, there are three species in the genus Pronotogrammus, all of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.  Its common name is derived from its long pelvic fins which are significantly longer than those found in most fish. The Bigeye Bass is an Anthias, a subfamily of Serranidae, that includes the majority of the pink, orange, red, and yellow reef fish seen swarming in most coral reef photography and film.

The Bigeye Basses have elongated oval bodies that narrow at the tail base. Their head and body are a silvery pink color. They feature two dark olive V-shaped colored bars just prior to their dorsal fin and a series of vertically elongated yellowish blotches that extend from the top corner of the operculum along their upper flank and the upper half of their tail base. Their fins are pinkish with small yellow spots on the upper caudal lobe and on the soft dorsal fin.Their heads have convex upper and lower profiles, very large eyes, and a moderately oblique mouth with a projecting lower jaw. They have long pectoral fins that reach past their anal fin. Their caudal fins are deeply forked with sharp tips.

The Bigeye Basses aggregate over rock, sand, and shell bottoms at depths between 240 and 1,000 feet. They reach a maximum length of 23.1 cm (9.1 inches), as documented by a fish that I caught, and less than 450 grams (1 pound) in weight. The Bigeye Bass are a small and exceedingly rare deep water species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Bigeye Bass are found from Santa Rosalia to La Paz in the Sea of Cortez and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala. The collection photographed below was made 40 miles north of Cabo San Lucas in the Pacific, documenting a significant northerly range extension for this species.

The Bigeye Bass can be confused with the Hookthroat Bass, Hemanthias signifer (elongated third dorsal spine) and the Splittail Bass, Hemanthias peruanus (elongated third dorsal spine).

The Bigeye Bass are a small and exceedingly rare deep water species that are seldom seen by humans and therefore of limited interest to most.

Bigeye Bass (4)

Bigeye Bass, Pronotogrammus eos, juvenile. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, May 2015. Length: 14.2 cm (5.6 inches).

Bigeye Bass (2)

Bigeye Bass, Pronotogrammus eos. Fish caught from coastal waters off  Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, May 2015. Length: 19.4 cm (7.6 inches).

Bigeye Bass, Pronotogrammus eos. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the Greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, June, 2012. Length: 23 cm (9.1 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.