Flag Serrano

Flag Serrano, Serranus huascarii

The Flag Serrano, Serranus huascarii, whose common Spanish name is serrano bandera, and known locally as bandera, is a species in the Sea Bass or Serranidae Family, known collectively as serranos in Mexico. This fish received its common name from the coloration pattern of its tail. Globally, there are twenty-seven species in the genus Serranus, thirteen of which are found in Mexican waters, ten in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.

The Flag Serrano has an elongated body that is covered with large rough scales. They have an overall dark gray-brown coloration and a white belly. The heads are long with short snouts, the eyes and mouth are large and they have a projecting lower jaw. The anal fin is transparent and the second spine is longer than the third; the dorsal fin is also transparent with spines one to four increasing and then the dorsal spines decrease in length. The pectoral fins are a uniform gray-brown color and reach the anus; the pelvic fins are black and inserted before the pectoral base. The keys to the identification are a large yellow blotch behind the pectoral fins and the wide white bar at the center of the concave caudal fin that is follow by a wide black margin (as pictured below).

The Flag Serrano is found over rocky bottoms at depths between 250 and 600 feet. They reach a maximum length of 20 cm (7.9 inches) and are virtually weightless. They are a small, rare, deep water species and not much is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Flag Serrano is found from Magdalena Bay southward along the Pacific side of Baja, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

The Flag Serrano is a very easy identification due to its size and prominent yellow blotch on the side. They are of similar size, shape and habitat as the Deepwater Serrano, Serranus aequidens (uniform dark tan coloration; dark blotch mid-body on the lateral line) but the markings and colors of the two species are very different.

The Flag Serrano is fairly common but too small to be of interest to most. When released, they will not return to the deep and are almost immediately consumed by the Magnificent Frigate Bird, Fregata manificus, who post consumption will always return to ocean twice for drinks of water which provides splendid visual entertainment.

Flag Serrano, Serranus huascarii. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur,  January 2010. Length: 15 cm (5.9 inches).