East Pacific Codlet, Bregmaceros bathymaster
The East Pacific Codlet, Bregmaceros bathymaster, whose common Spanish name is bacalete de Pacifico oriental, is a species in the Codlet or Bregmacerotidae Family, known collectively as bacaletes in Mexico. Globally, there are eleven species in the Bregmacerotidae Family, all in the genus Bregmaceros, three of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.
The East Pacific Codlets have small elongated slightly compressed cigar-shaped bodies. They are reddish-brown dorsally and silvery-white ventrally. Their fins are translucent. Their head is short with disproportionately large eyes. Their mouth opens at the front, extends to mid-eye, and is equipped with one or two series of minute slender teeth on each jaw. Their anal fin has a long base and is similar to the second dorsal fin with 44 to 50 rays. Their caudal fin is small and lunate but is well developed and separate from the anal and dorsal fins. They have two dorsal fins: the first fin is long and originates on top of the rear portion of the head (known as the occipital ray, not pictured below), and is well separated from the second fin which has very short rays with one spine and 44 to 49 rays. They have short pectoral fins located high on their sides. Their pelvic fins are on the throat under the gill covers with 5 to 7 rays; the outer 3 rays are very long, thick, and free and extend well past the anal fin origin whereas the inner 3 or 4 rays are short and branched. Their lateral line is high on the back under the dorsal fin base. Their body is covered with small, smooth, and thin scales.
The East Pacific Codlets are a pelagic species found over soft bottoms on the continental shelf and slope at depths between the surface and 4,000 feet. They reach a maximum length of 10.0 cm (3.9 inches). They are believed to be vertical migrators moving toward the surface at night to on plankton and retreating toward the bottom to avoid predation during the day. Reproduction is oviparous with planktonic eggs and larvae. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Eastern Pacific Codlets have a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, in the southern half of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.
The East Pacific Codlet cannot be confused with any other species due to the occipital ray on its head, its coloration and overall body profile.
Due to their small stature and rarity, the East Pacific Codlets are of little interest to most.
Eastern Pacific Codlet, Bregmaceros bathymaster. Fish regurgitated by a Pacific Red Snapper taken in 300-foot water, July 2011, off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur. Length: 5.0 cm (2.0 inches).