Coral Hawkfish
Halcón de Coral
(Cirrhitus oxycephalus)

Coral Hawkfish, Cirrhitus oxycephalus: The Coral Hawkfish has an oval moderately compressed body. They are whitish or pink with square red to brown blotches covering their sides. The heads have small red to brown spots and blotches with pointed snouts and a straight profile.

The dorsal fin has ten spines and twelve continuous rays.

The Coral Hawkfish is easy to identify and can only be confused with the Longnose Hawkfish, Oxycirrhitus typus (long extended snout).

They reach a maximum of 10 cm (4 inches) and can be found up to 120 feet in the water column in an around rocky and coral reefs.

In Mexico, the Coral Hawkfish is absent from along the Pacific Coast of Baja, but is present in the lower two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez, along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala, and around all of the oceanic islands. Due to their beauty and size they are sold commercially for the aquarium trade.

The Coral Hawkfish is a small very colorful member of the Cirrhitidae Family which are known in Mexico as Halcónes. The Hawkfishes are sedentary predatory fishes that have been named by their tendency to perch on coral heads or boulders watching like hawks for their prey. They all have a fringe of cirri on the hind edge of the anterior nostrils, cirri projecting from the membranes near the tips of the dorsal spines, and they have thickened lower pectoral fin rays.

They are voracious predators feeding on fishes and crustaceans. Globally, 32 species have been identified of which three live in the Sea of Cortez.

Coral Hawkfish picture

Coral Hawkfish, Cirrhitus oxycephalus: Provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area of B.C.S., Mexico, in June, 2011. Size 8 cm (3.15 inches). This fish was caught 40 miles north along the Pacific coast of the Baja representing a small range extension for this species. Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.