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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Pontinus vaughani, a New Scorpaenid Fish from Baja California

  • Author(s): Barnhart, Percy S
  • Hubbs, Carl L
  • et al.

Ichthyologically speaking, one of the least-explored parts of North America is Baja California. From the waters along its coast several hitherto unknown species have been collected. One of these, a very distinct kind of rockfish or scorpionfish (a member of the family Scorpaenidae) , is described in this contribution. The single specimen, a large adult, was presented to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography by the Hall-Booth Fish Company of San Diego, as Accession No. 1252. The fishermen who took this fish were not consulted, but according to information obtained from the company, the specimen was included among some "rock cod" (Sebastodes) that were caught in the Pacific Ocean off Cedros Island on May 14, 1931. The rockfish grounds off this island are on the west side, where an abundance of kelp grows on the rocky bottom in shallow water. This new scorpaenid belongs to a group that is predominantly deep-sea and tropical. It is one of the few littoral fishes of its type and is one of the northern-most outliers of a fauna that is more tropical than that of southern California. Recent exploration has shown that the shore fauna of northwestern Baja California is distinctly more northerly in its affinities than is the littoral fauna of southern California. As one goes southward from San Diego he finds only southern California fish types, plus a few central Californian species. More tropical types are first encountered in small numbers in the vicinity of Cedros Island. The new species is one of these.

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