Dusky Croaker, Ophioscion scierus
The Dusky Croaker, Ophioscion scierus, whose common Spanish name is corvineta parda, is a member of the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known collectively as berrugatas or corvinas in Mexico. This fish is also known as the Point-Tuza Croaker. Globally, there are ten species in the genus Ophioscion, five of which are found in Mexican waters, all in the Pacific.
The Dusky Croakers have elongated and slightly compressed bodies with a low head and snout. They have a dark silvery brown coloration with dusky scale margins that form oblique lines. Their fins are dusky brown except for their pelvic fins which are lighter in color. Their head has a slightly overhanging snout and a small horizontal mouth equipped with teeth in simple bands. Their gill covers have eight to ten strong spines. Their chin does not have a barbel, however, their snout has three upper pores and five pores on the side, and their chin has five pores. Their anal fin has a short base with two spines and seven rays, the second ray being the longest; their caudal fin is “S”-shaped; their dorsal fin is deeply notched with 10 spines followed by another spine and 24 to 26 rays; and their pectoral fins are long and reach past the ends of the depressed pelvic fins. They have 19 to 23 short gill rakers. Their body is covered with rough scales.
The Dusky Croakers are found in coastal waters including bays and river mouths at depths up to 65 feet. They reach a maximum length of 35 cm (14 inches). They consume shrimp and other benthic invertebrates. They are poorly studied and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Dusky Croaker are found from Mazatlán southward along the west coast of the mainland to Guatemala.
The Dusky Croaker can be confused with the Racer Croaker, Ophioscion typicus (caudal fin with angular point), the Shortnose Stardrum, Stellifer chrysoleuca (anal fin with wider base and eight or nine spines), and the Squint-eyed Croaker, Ophioscion strabo (caudal fin with angular point),
The Dusky Croakers are a rare and fairly small species that are sold in local markets within their region. From a conservation perspective they are currently considered to be of Least Concern, being very common throughout their known range with stable populations.
Dusky Croaker, Ophioscion scierus. Fish caught from coastal water off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2016. Length: 15.2 cm (6.0 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Identification reconfirmed by H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.