Bluechin Parrotfish

Bluechin Parrotfish, Scarus ghobban

The Bluechin Parrotfish, Scarus ghobban, whose common Spanish name is loro barbazul, is a species in the Parrotfish or Scaridae Family, known collectively as loros and pericos in Mexico. Globally, there are sixty four species in the genus Scarus, ten of which are found in Mexican waters, six in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific.

The Bluechin Parrotfish have deep compressed bodies. The females and males of the initial phase (IP) are yellow to yellowish green in color with five irregular light blue bars on their flanks. The terminal phase (TP) males have blue green upper bodies with salmon pink scale edges; their lower bodies are salmon pink with green scale margins. They have a pair of blue stripes on their chin. The juveniles are pale with a yellowish tinge and have either three stripes along their body or five narrow blue-white spotted bars. They have orange yellow ventral fins. They have prominent parrot-like teeth in the front and one or two canines on the rear of their top jaw. Their caudal fin is concave with extended terminal rays and their pectoral fins have 15 rays. Their body is covered with large scales.

The Bluechin Parrotfish are found in and around rocky coral reefs at depths up to 115 feet. They reach a maximum length of 90 cm (35.4 inches). They forage during the day and feed on algae and corals. They are a rare, poorly studied species and very limited information is available about their behavioral patterns.

The Bluechin Parrotfish has a broad distribution being found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. In Mexican waters they are found from Alijos Rocks southward along the central and southwest coasts of Baja, from Santa Rosalia southward along the central and southeast coasts of Baja, and from Mazatlán southward to Guatemala along the coast of the mainland.

The Bluechin Parrotfish is easily confused with the Azure Parrotfish, Scarus compressus (14 pectoral fin rays).

The Bluechin Parrotfish are considered excellent food fish due to their white meat and are sold commercially in most of the major markets in the greater Los Cabos area. I assume that these commercial fish are caught by commercial fishermen utilizing nets.

Bluechin Parrotfish, Scarus ghobban, juvenile. Fish purchased at MEGA Mercado, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, January 2014. Length: 23.5 cm (9.3 inches).

Bluechin Parrotfish, Scarus ghobban, terminal phase (TP) male. Fish collected in coastal waters off Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, September 2006. Length: 60 cm (24 inches). Fish identification courtesy Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.

Bluechin Parrotfish, Scarus ghobban, terminal phase (TP) male. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, March 2016. Length: 58 cm (23 inches). A rare unusually catch from a Panga with the photo taken on the fillet table.