Panamic Flashlightfish, Gulf Flashlightfish
Pez-linterna Mejicana
(Phthanophaneron harveyi)

Panamic Flashlightfish, Phthanophaneron harveyi: The Panamic Flashlightfish is a member of the Anomalopidae Family which includes flashlight and lantern-eyed fish, with seven species found in five genera. They all have a unique luminous organ under the eye which at night is used to attract planktonic food. First reported in the scientific literature in 1976, the Panamic Flashlightfish is extremely rare.

The Panamic Flashlightfish has an overall blackish-brown coloration, a large, bony, spine-laden head, and a prominent pearly white luminous organ under each of the blue eyes. It has a strange little flap of skin below the eye which can be raised and lowered, thus causing the appearance of a light “blinking” on and off.

The body is covered with small rough scales. Below the lateral line, these scales are enlarged with some blue spots. There are two separate dorsal fins, pelvic fins with spines, and a deeply forked caudal fin.

The Panamic Flashlightfish is active nocturnally, hiding in rocky caves and crevices during the daytime.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

In Mexican fishing waters , it is present south of Magdalena Bay on the Pacific side of the Baja California Peninsula. Dr. John McCosker, California Academy of Science, knows of only one other flashlightfish that was caught by hook and line.

This occurred on the Thetis Bank (24°48'N, 112°9'W). In the Sea of Cortez, Panamic Flashlightfish is thought to be found south of Loreto and around Guaymas. It is believed to reach a maximum length of 10 inches and to be found in the first 100 feet of the water column. The collection pictured below confirms the size, approximately 10 inches, but increases the depth range (catch made at 310 feet) and the distribution northward to Santa Rosalia (27°18'N, 112°52'W). Description courtesy John Snow.

Panamic Flashlightfish picture

Panamic Flashlightfish picture

Panamic Flashlightfish picture

Panamic Flashlightfish, Phthanophaneron harveyi: Provided during fishing by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California, Mexico, in August 2010. Length 20 cm. Photos courtesy of John Snow.

Panamic Flashlightfish picture

Panamic Flashlightfish picture

Panamic Flashlightfish picture

Panamic Flashlightfish, Phthanophaneron harveyi: Fish caught during fishing by Capt. Kevin Ward with a Sabiki rig in 310 feet of 63.7-degree water while making bait for mackerel in December 2005 in an area off the Stone Cliffs, 2 miles south of Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

"Today, Captain Kevin Ward caught this really weird fish when we were making bait...some kind of deep water fish I think not sure what...Not shown in the photo is this strange little flap of skin below the eye...When opened it is very light in color like maybe some kind of light? The fish's head is very bony and hard...scales are very fine and feels sand paper, leather-like to the touch. It also had some very light blue color specks near the belly." Description and photos courtesy of Mike Kanzler.

Fish identified by Dr. Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara, with additional input from Donald Alley, Omar DeMoss and Hal Forzen. Fish identification reconfirmed by Dr. John McCosker, California Academy of Science; Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Institute, Panama; and Dr. Richard Rosenblatt, Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

Mexico Fishing Home Page < Fish Photo List < Panamic Flashlightfish