Marlinsucker, Remora osteochir

The Marlinsucker, Remora osteochir, whose common Spanish name is rémora marlinera, is a species in the Remora or Echenidae Family, known collectively as remoras and pega pega in Mexico. Globally, there are only five species in the genus Remora, and all five are found in Mexican waters of both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Marlinsuckers have elongated bodies that are a uniform dark brown color. Their head has a convex lower and flat upper profile with small black eyes and an extended disc that is 38 to 40% of standard length and reaches well past the pectoral fins with 15 to 19 lamellae. They have 11 to 17 gill rakers. Their lower jaw is projecting and their mouth has numerous small pointed teeth. Their anal and dorsal fin bases are of similar size and shape and are significantly longer than the head but less than two times the head length; the caudal fin is forked in juveniles transitioning to straight in adults; their pectoral fins are mid-sized and rounded; and their pelvic fins are pointed and joined to the belly.

The Marlinsuckers are oceanic pelagic fish that travel attached to their hosts (marlin and sailfish) and are found at depths up to 650 feet. They reach a maximum length of 40 cm (16 inches). Very little is known about their biology due to their need for fast moving water for survival, making study in captivity impossible.

In Mexican waters the Marlinsuckers are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from the northern 20% of the Sea of Cortez. They are more common in southern Mexican waters.

The Marlinsucker is an easy fish to identify due to its lamellae count, the length of its pectoral fins, and the host on which it rides.

The Marlinsuckers are too rare and too unappealing to be of interest to most. They are most definitely a “catch-and-release”.


Marlinsucker, Remora osteochir. Fish provided by a Pacific Sailfish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, September 2007. Length: 15.0 cm (5.9 inches).