Panama Hake, Merluccius angustimanus: The Panama Hake has an elongated compressed body that tapers to a narrow tail base. It has a redish silver color that is white below, and a large head that is greater than 30 percent of the total length of the fish.
Keys to identification of the Panama Hake include 16 to 18 gill rakers on the first arch, and 36 to 40 rays in the second dorsal fin.
This fish species is quite similar to and can be easily confused with the Pacific Hake, Merluccius productus (head less than 30 percent of total length, 18 to 23 gill rakers, and 39 to 44 rays on the second dorsal fin), and perhaps the mythical, obscure, poorly characterized Cortez Hake, Merluccius hernandizi.
The Panama Hake is a pelagic species found between 250 and 1,500 feet deep in the water column. It reaches a maximum length of 16 inches and is omni-present in all Mexican fishing waters except the extreme northern portions of the Sea of Cortez.
The Panama Hake is a member of the Merlucciidae Family which are known in Mexico as merluzzas. They all have elongated compressed bodies that taper to a narrow tail base. The heads are relatively large and flattened with large eyes and a large mouth with a projecting lower jaw. They have fins without spines, two separate dorsal fins, the first of which is shorter and taller, and the second with a long base partly divided by a notch. The pelvic fins are well developed, found before the pectoral fins. The caudal fin is short and slightly forked. Globally, there are 13 members of the family, all members of one genus of which three are found in Mexican waters.