Snubnose Blacksmelt

Snubnose Blacksmelt, Bathylagoides wesethi

The Snubnose Blacksmelt, Bathylagoides wesethi, whose common Spanish name is desaire nariz capellane mesopelágico, is a species in the Deep Sea Smelt or Bathylagidae Family, known collectively as capellanes mesopelágicos in Mexico. Globally, there are twenty-two species in the Bathylagidae family in eight genera, two of which are found in Mexican waters of the Pacific. Only one fish from the genus Batylagoides is found in Mexican waters, this species from the Pacific.

The Snubnose Blacksmelts have slender compressed elongated bodies that are widest slightly behind the pectoral fin base and taper towards the caudal fin. They are silvery in color and dark brown dorsally with black spots and a black area around their gill openings. Their fins are translucent. Their eyes are disproportionally large and twice the length of the rounded snout. They have a small terminal oblique mouth with a gill opening that reaches halfway up the side of their body. Their anal fin has 13 to 17 rays; their caudal fin is very short with a very narrow base; their dorsal fin is set well behind the mid-point of the body with 10 to 14 rays; their pectoral fins are short, set low on the body, and do not reach the dorsal fin origin. They have 24 to 26 gill rakers, Their lateral line is high on the body and extends into the caudal fin and they are covered with scales.

The Snubnose Blacksmelts are an oceanic mesopelagic species residing in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans and found between 80 feet and perhaps as deep at 14,000 feet. They reach a maximum length of 13.5 cm (5.3 inches). Adults are vertical migrators moving toward the surface at night to feed on small crustaceans and returning to the depths during the day for protection from predation. They provide a valuable food source for all sorts of fish, birds, sea lions, dolphins, and of course the Humboldt Squid. Reproduction is oviparous with planktonic eggs and larvae.They are an uncommon poorly studied species that is seldom seen by humans and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Snubnose Blacksmelt have a limited distribution being found only along the west coast of Baja.

The Snubnose Blacksmelt is a difficult fish to identify and requires help from a professional ichthyologist for correct identification.

Due to their small stature and rarity, the Snubnose Blacksmelts are of little interest to most.

Snubnose Blacksmelt, Bathylagoides wesethi. Fish collected by H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, in a deep water trawl net off Point Loma, California, August 2010. Length: 6.5 cm (2.6 inches).