Bignose Anchovy

Bignose Anchovy, Anchoa nasus

The Bignose Anchovy, Anchoa nasus, whose common Spanish name is anchoa trompuda and known locally as cheral, is a member of the Anchovy or Engraulidae Family, known collectively as anchoas or sardinas in Mexico.

The Bignose Anchovies are characterized by elongated semi-cylindrical bodies. They have a long pointed snout with a projecting upper jaw that is approximately three-fourths the eye diameter. Their mouth is long, extending past the eyes and reaching the gill openings. They are a transparent silvery color with a silver stripe along their flank that is about the size of the eye diameter and that fades in intensity in mature fish. A key to identification is their anal fin, which has a medium length base and originates under or just behind the last dorsal fin ray. Their anal fin has 20 to 25 rays. Their single dorsal fin has a short base and is found mid-body. Their pectoral fins are short, low on the body, and do not reach the pelvic fins. They have 21 to 28 lower gill rakers.

The Bignose Anchovies are a schooling pelagic inshore species known to enter low-salinity bays and estuaries. They are found at depths up to 35 feet and reach a maximum length of 17.0 cm (6.7 inches). They feed on zooplankton. Reproduction is oviparous with pelagic oval-shaped eggs and larvae. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Bignose Anchovies are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

At first view, the Bignose Anchovy can be easily confused with a series of small striped Anchovies including the Bright Anchovy, Anchoa lucida, the Gulf Anchovy, Anchoa helleri, the Longfin Pacific Anchovy, Anchoa analis, the Sharpnose Anchovy, Anchoa ischana, the Short Anchovy, Anchoa curta, the Silverstripe Anchovy, Anchoa argentivittata, the Slender Anchovy, Anchoa exigua, and the Yellow Anchovy, Anchoa scofieldi, but all have anal fins inserted under the dorsal fin, except for the Silverstripe Anchovy, which has 17 to 20 lower gill rakers.

The Bignose Anchovies are considered a minor commercial fish and are used for human consumption in some parts to their range. They are also used as bait fish. From a conservation perspective they are currently considered of Least Concern being common with wide distribution and stable populations.

Bignose Anchovy, Anchoa nasus. Fish caught with with a cast net by Jimmy Camacho, within  of Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, May 2017. Length: 28 cm (11 inches). Identification courtesy of Dr. Robert N. Lea, Monterey, CA.