Bigscale Anchovy

Bigscale Anchovy, Anchovia macrolepidota

The Bigscale Anchovy, Anchovia macrolepidota, whose common Spanish name is anchoveta escamuda, is a species in the Anchovy or Engraulidae Family, known collectively as sardinas in Mexico. Globally, there are only three species in the genus Anchovia, two of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

The Bigscale Anchovies are characterized by deep strongly-compressed rectangular bodies with a depth that is 27 to 31% of standard length. They have a short pointed snout with a tip just above the center of their very large eyes, which are set well forward. They are silvery with yellow fins; their caudal fin has a black margin. Juveniles have a silver stripe on their flank. Their mouth is large with the top jaw reaching the gill cover. They have fine teeth on their lower jaw. Their anal fin has 26 to 29 rays and a long base; it originates under the center of the dorsal fin, which itself originates mid-body. Their pectoral fins reach the pelvic fin base. They have 70 to 135 fine and slender gill rakers.

The Bigscale Anchovies are a neritic (coastal) pelagic species found inshore along sandy beaches, in tidal streams, and in large schools in brackish river mouths at depths up to 150 feet. They reach a maximum length of 25 cm (10 inches) and are virtually weightless. Juveniles are found in shallower waters than adults. They are filter feeders consuming phytoplankton and zooplankton. Reproduction is external with pelagic eggs and larvae.

In Mexican waters the Bigscale Anchovy are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from Guerrero Negro northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Bigscale Anchovy is most likely confused with the Anchoveta, Cetengraulis mysticetus (black fins; longer snout; 60 gill rakers).

The Bigscale Anchovies are used on a limited basis as bait, however, they are of limited interest to most.

Bigscale Anchovy (3)Bigscale Anchovy, Anchovia macrolepidota. Fish caught by with a cast net off the pier at Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, April 2016. Length: 9.9 cm (3.9 inches). Catch courtesy of Jimmy Camacho, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur.

Bigscale Anchovy (1)

Bigscale Anchovy, Anchovia macrolepidota. Fish caught with a cast net off the pier at Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, April 2016. Length: 10.1 cm (4.0 inches). Catch courtesy of Jimmy Camacho, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur.  Identification courtesy of Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Institute, Panama.

Bigscale Anchovy, Anchovia macrolepidota.  Fish caught with a cast net off the pier at Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, December 2016. Length: 16.5 cm (6.5 inches). Catch courtesy of Ruben Duran, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur. Photo and identification courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

Bigscale Anchovy, Anchovia macrolepidota. Fish caught with a cast net off the pier at Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, April 2016. Length: 17.9 cm (7.0 inches). Catch courtesy of Jimmy Camacho, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur.