California Smoothtongue, Southern Smoothtongue
Lengua Suave
(Leuroglossus stilbius)

California Smoothtongue, Leuroglossus stilbius: The California Smoothtoungue have very small pectoral fins that originate close to ventral surface of the body. They are silvery to brassy in color being darker above with pale fins.

They have 9 to 12 dorsal rays, 11 to 14 anal rays, 8 or 9 pectoral rays, 8 to 10 pelvic rays and 21 to 26 gill rakers. The caudal fin is deeply forked and dorsal fin is well back in the body.

A key to identification of the California Smoothtongue is that the snout is pointed and greater in length than the eye diameter.

They are an abundant, seldom seen by humans, bathypelagic species that in Mexican waters are found along the west coast of Baja and throughout the Sea of Cortez from near the surface to 2,800 feet in the water column. They vertically migrate during the night toward the surface to feed.

They reach a maximum length of 17.2 cm (6.8 inches) and have life spans of 5 years. They are oviparous with planktonic eggs and larvae. Adults feed on small crustaceans and in turn provide a valuable food source for all sorts of fishes, birds, sea lions, dolphins, and of course the Humboldt Squid.

The California Smoothtongue is a member of the Bathylagidae Family of Deepsea Smelts which are known in Mexico as Capellanes Mesopel√°gicos. Globally there are 23 species from 5 genera of Deepsea Smelts.

California Smoothtongue picture

California Smoothtongue, Leuroglossus stilbius: Fish collected by H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif., in a deep water trawl net off Point Loma in August 2010. Length 10.5 cm (4.1 inches). Description courtesy of John Snow.

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