Pacific Moonfish

Pacific Moonfish, Selene peruviana

The Pacific Moonfish, Selene peruviana, whose common Spanish name is jorobado papelillo and whose local name is pompano, is an exotic looking member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. In the greater Los Cabos area they are known as tortillas. Globally, there are nine species in the genus Selene, six of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.

The Pacific Moonfish have strongly compressed rectangular-shaped bodies with a depth that is 45 to 49% of standard length. They are uniformly silver in color and have yellowish caudal and pectoral fins. Their head is moderately deep with a steep slightly concave forehead and snout profile. They have a protruding snout and an oblique mouth that ends well before the eyes. They have relatively short anal and dorsal fins, a deeply forked caudal fin, long and curved pectoral fins, and very small short pelvic fins. Their dorsal spines are short, with at least one being isolated; they have no isolated finlets after their second dorsal and anal fins. They have 30 to 34 gill rakers and very small scutes. The body appears devoid of scales.

The Pacific Moonfish are a pelagic schooling species found inshore and in estuaries demersal over sandy bottoms at depths up to 1,475 feet. They reach a maximum length of 85 cm (34 inches). They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Pacific Moonfish are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are abasent from the extreme northern portions of the Sea of Cortez.

The Pacific Moonfish can be confused with the Mexican Lookdown, Selene brevoortii (long anal and dorsal fins) and the Mexican Moonfish, Selene orstedii (straight head profile; long anal and dorsal fins).

The Pacific Moonfish are common and can be caught predawn with Sabiki rigs tipped with squid. They are also caught with large cast nets and sold as live bait fish. They are considered excellent food fish by locals.

Pacific Moonfish, Selene peruviana. Fish provided by the commercial bait salesmen of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, July 2014. Length: 35 cm (14 inches).