Pacific Stargazer
Miraestrella Perro, Miracielo Tranquilo
(Astroscopus zephyreus)

Pacific Stargazer, Astroscopus zephyreus: The Pacific Stargazer is the sole member of the Astroscopus Genus, given its own genus due to the presence of electric organs that are capable of delivering electrical shocks of up to 50 volts.

The Pacific Stargazer has a large robust fully-scaled body with a very large flat head and small eyes on top. Overall the upper half of the head and body are gray-brown and covered with small white spots. The lower half is white. The caudal fin of the Pacific Stargazer has white stripes and the pectoral fins are enormous

In general, the fins are dark grey or black in color. The first dorsal fin has four spines and one ray and the second dorsal fin has a dark tip and twelve rays.

This fish species might be confused with the Smooth Stargazer, Kathetostoma averruncus (large eyes, first dorsal fin has no spines, large white spots on the body, caudal and dorsal fins).

The maximum length for the Pacific Stargazer is reported to be 52 cm (20.5 inches) but we have collected a fish that was 55 cm (21.7 inches) which is pictured below establishing a new limit for this species.

It is normally found in sandy beach areas in the first 50 to 1,200 feet of the water column.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

In Mexican fishing waters , the Pacific Stargazer is found in all coastal waters, however, it appears to be absent from around the oceanic islands.

Caution! The Pacific Stargazer has a pair of large poisonous spines, with a venom gland at the base, located immediately above the pectoral fin and behind the gill cover. Venom from this fish has been reported to cause death in humans and therefore it should not be handled.

The Pacific Stargazer is a member of the Uranoscopidae Family which is limited to stargazers. The stargazers have robust bodies, small eyes on top of a flattened head, two dorsal fins that are close together, the first of which has four spines, an upturned mouth, and a protruding, tubular lower jaw. Stargazers are seldom seen by humans as they are “lie-in-wait” predators spending the majority of their time buried in sand with only the eyes, snout, and mouth exposed, attacking small fish and invertebrates that come within range. Globally, there are fifty different known stargazers in eight genera.

Pacific Stargazer fish picture 1

Pacific Stargazer fish picture 2

Pacific Stargazer fish picture 3

Pacific Stargazer, Astroscopus zephyreus: Three different fish, donated to during fishing by the commercial Mexican pangueros of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur.  The first fish was 13 inches long and has had its venomous gland surgically removed.  The second fish was 22 inches in length and weighed in excess of 15 pounds.  The third fish was 16 inches long. Description and photos courtesy of John Snow.

Pacific Stargazer fish picture 4

Pacific Stargazer, Astroscopus zephyreus: Photo courtesy of John Snow.

Pacific Stargazer fish picture 5

Pacific Stargazer, Astroscopus zephyreus: Caught during fishing by local angler Freddy Pino on cut mullet bait, at the new San Jose del Cabo jetty, April 2006, in 10 feet of 73-degree water. Description and photo courtesy of Eric Brictson.

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