Pacific Shafted Bonefish

Pacific Shafted Bonefish, Albula pacifica

The Pacific Shafted Bonefish, Albula pacifica, whose common Spanish name is macabí de hebra del Pacifico, and known locally as chili, is a species in the Bonefish or Albulidae Family, known collectively as macabi in Mexico. Globally, there are only six species in the genus Albula, four of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and three in the Pacific.

The Pacific Shafted Bonefish are medium-sized fish with long, slender, silvery, and slightly compressed bodies. Their anal and pectoral fins are yellowish and their caudal fins are dusky in color. They have a conical head with a small, long, inferior mouth that reaches the eyes and a pointed overhanging snout. Their anal fins are set under the rear of their dorsal fins. They have deeply forked caudal fins, one short dorsal fin located mid-body, pectoral fins that are low on the body, short pelvic fins that are low on the body and well behind the pectoral fins, and a straight lateral line that runs the entire length of the body. Their fins do not have spines and the anal and dorsal fins have an extended filamentous ray (a key to identification). They are covered with modest-sized smooth scales.

The Pacific Shafted Bonefish are bottom dwelling schooling fish found in and around sandy substrata primarily within estuaries at depths of less than 35 feet. They reach a maximum length of 60 cm (23 inches). They are believed to be a pelagic species that travels and feeds in schools. They have been poorly studied and as such very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Pacific Shafted Bonefish are found around the southern tip of Baja and along the coast of the mainland from Mazatlán to Guatemala.

The Pacific Shafted Bonefish is similar to the other three Bonefish found in oceanic Mexican waters – the Bonefish, Albula vulpes, the Cortez Bonefish, Albula gilberti, and the Eastern Pacific Bonefish, Albula esuncula, however, none of these have the extended dorsal ray filament characteristic of the Pacific Shafted Bonefish. They are also similar in appearance to the Machete, Elops affinis (pelvic fins in front of the dorsal fins) and the Milkfish, Chanos chanos (large eyes, short terminal mouth, strong lateral line, short pointed dorsal fin).

The Pacific Shafted Bonefish is exceedingly rare and is not deemed to be a valuable food fish due to its small size and the numerous fine bones that are omnipresent in its flesh.

Pacific Shafted Bonefish

Pacific Shafted Bonefish

Pacific Shafted Bonefish, Albula pacifica. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, March 2012. Length: 48 cm (19 inches).