Rosy Scorpionfish

Rosy Scorpionfish, Pontinus species A

The Rosy Scorpionfish, Pontinus species A, whose common Spanish name is puñal rosado, is a species in the family Scorpaenidae, the Rockfishes and Scorpionfishes, known collectively as escorpiónes or lapóns in Mexico. Globally, there are twenty-one species in the genus Pontinus, seven of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific. This species is quite new to science, thus its taxonomy has not yet been fully documented and formally assigned.

The Rosy Scorpionfish have wide compressed bodies that taper toward both ends; their body depth is 37 to 41% of standard length. Overall they are pinkish-red (rosy) with a white head and belly. The have irregular brown bars on their sides and a broken brown line along their lateral line. Their fins are reddish with brown spotting on their caudal, soft dorsal, and pectoral fins. Their head is very bony with numerous spines. They have large mouths and large eyes. They lack the “pits” before and after the eyes found in most other Scorpionfish. The uppermost spine on their gill cover is the longest. Their anal fin has 3 spines, the second being the longest, and 3 rays; their caudal fin is straight; their dorsal fin has 7 spines (the second, third, and fourth being the longest and of approximately equal length), and 9 or 10 rays; and their pectoral fins have 16 to 18 rays. They have 13 gill rakers. Their bodies are covered with rough scales.

The Rosy Scorpionfish are found around rocky structures at depths between 150 and 450 feet. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches), with this length established by a fish in my possession. They are an exceedingly rare species with a very limited distribution and are seldom seen by humans, thus very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Rosy Scorpionfish are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja and along the west coast of the mainland from Mazatlán to Guatemala.

The Rosy Scorpionfish is most likely confused with the Speckled Scorpionfish, Pontinus sierra (lacks prominent spotting on caudal and soft dorsal fins).

Although fairly rare, the Rosy Scorpionfish are considered good eating fish. However, they are difficult to handle, thus are mostly a “catch and release”. Caution: As with all Scorpionfish, the Rosy Scorpionfish should be treated as “hazardous” and released as soon as possible, being careful not to allow their poisonous spines to penetrate the skin.

Rosy Scorpionfish

Rosy Scorpionfish, Pontinus species A. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, December 2009. Length: 30 cm (11.8 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography and reconfirmed by Dr. John Hyde, NOAA, La Jolla, CA.