Sickle Pomfret, Taractichthys steindachneri
The Sickle Pomfret, Taractichthys steindachneri, whose common Spanish name is tristón segador, is a species in the Pomfret or Bramidae Family, known collectively as tristones in Mexico. Globally, there are two species in the genus Taractichthys, both found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and the other in the Pacific.
The Sickle Pomfrets have moderately compressed and deep bodies with a depth that is 48% to 52% of standard length. They are uniformly silvery black with white margins on their anal, caudal, and pelvic fins. They have a round head, a blunt snout, large eyes, and an oblique mouth that opens at the front and is equipped with small curved canines set in bands on both jaws. Their anal and dorsal fins are low with large curved pointed lobes in the front that vary in height and length with the age of the fish. Their anal fin has 26 to 28 rays; their caudal fin is deeply forked; their dorsal fin has 33 to 37 rays; their pectoral fins are low on the body; and their pelvic fins are located just before the pectoral fins. They have no lateral line and are covered with large and hard scales that have spines.
The Sickle Pomfrets are a highly migratory oceanodromous species found demersal at depths between 175 feet and 2,300 feet. They reach a maximum length of 91 cm (36 inches) and weight of 11 kg (24 pounds). They are midwater feeders preying on small fish, shrimp, and squid. In turn juveniles are preyed upon by tuna and swordfish. They have a lifespan of eight years. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Sickle Pomfrets are found off the west coast of Baja and along the east coast of Baja from La Paz Bay south to Cabo San Lucas.
The Sickle Pomfret is straightforward to identify with the exception that it can be confused with the Pacific Pomfret, Brama japonica (short anal and dorsal fins).
The Sickle Pomfrets are not fished commercially, however, they are caught, retained, and sold by pelagic longline and hook-and-line deep water bottom fishermen at depths in excess of 900 feet. They have not been evaluated from a conservation perspective but their populations are considered stable.
Sickle Pomfret, Taractichthys steindachneri. Fish caught from oceanic waters well off Baja California by the Gutsy Lady 4 on deep-set longline gear, April 2017. Length: 72 cm (28 inches). Photo and identification courtesy of Dan Fuller, San Diego, CA.