Queen Corvina

Queen Corvina, Cynoscion albus

The Queen Corvina, Cynoscion albus, whose common Spanish name is corvina chiapaneca, is a species in the Croaker or Sciaenidae Family, known as berrugatras and corvinas in Mexico. This fish is also known as the Whitefin Weakfish. Globally, there are twenty-four species in the genus Cynoscion, thirteen of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and ten in the Pacific.

The Queen Corvina have elongated fusiform compressed bodies with an oval cross-section. They have an overall silvery coloration being blue-gray dorsally transitioning to white dorsally. The inside of the mouth is yellow and the lining of the gills is black and the tip of the jaw is black. They have pointed heads with a large oblique mouth and mid-sized eyes and a projecting lower jaw. They have one pair of canines. The edge of their operculum is smooth and they do not have pores or barbels on their chin. Their anal fin has two short weak spines and 8 or 9 rays; their caudal fin has either a blunt point or is “S” shaped; their dorsal fin has a long base with 9 or 10 spines followed by another spine and 19 to 22 rays with a deep notch in between the two parts; their pectoral fins are long with 17 or 18 rays and reach half way to the anus. They have 8 or 9 gill rakers, the lateral line is arched anteriorly and their body is covered with rough scales.

The Yellowtail Corvinas are found over sandy bottoms in estuaries, open bays, and coastal waters at depths up to 165 feet. Juveniles will enter estuaries, river mouths and shallow bays. They reach a maximum length of 1.30 meters (4 feet 3 inches). They feed on cephalopods, small fish and shrimp. The Queen Corvinas are poorly studied and very little is known about their behavioral patterns

In Mexican waters the Queen Corvinas have a limited range being found from Mazatlan south along the coast of the mainland. The fish caught below is a significant range extension for this species to the southern coast of Baja.

The Queen Corvina can be confused with the Orangemouth Corvina, Cynoscion xanthulus (short pectoral fins), the Scalyfin Corvina, Cynoscion squamipinnis (7 or 8 dorsal spines), the Sharpnose Corvina, Cynoscion phoxocephalus (short pectoral fins), and the Yellowtail Corvina, Cynoscion stolzmanni (short pectoral fins).

The Queen Corvina are fairly abundant in some countries of Central America where they are heavily fished year round, sold commercially and considered to be an excellent food fish. From a conservation perspective they have a wide distribution but populations are in decline; they have not been evaluated and are currently classified as Data Deficient. They have been raised via aquaculture in the Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica, and these efforts are currently expanding.

Queen Corvina, Cynoscion albus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, October 2017. Length: 1.27 meters (4 feet 2 inches). Catch courtesy of Jo Barcimo. Photo courtesy of Eric Brictson, Gordo Banks Pangas, La Playita, Baja California Sur. Productive discussions about the identification of this fish with H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA noted.