Red Scorpionfish
Rascacio Richichi
(Pontinus furcirhinus)

Red Scorpionfish, Pontinus furcirhinus: The Red Scorpionfish is characterized by its large eyes, slender small body and head with numerous spines, and 12 dorsal spines, the third of which is much longer than the others.

The Red Scorpionfish is red in appearance with dark brown spots on the upper body and dorsal and caudal fins. It can be confused with the Spotback Scorpionfish, Pontinus vaughani. However the Spotback Scorpionfish has elongated second and third dorsal spines of equal length.

The Red Scorpionfish reaches a length of approximately 25 cm (10 inches) and up to 1.5 pounds, and is found at depths between 150 feet and 2,000 feet. We have in our possession a fish that measures 29 cm (11.4 inches) extending the known maximum length for this species. Deemed to be an excellent food fish by locals.

The Red Scorpionfish is a member of the Scorpaenidae or Scorpionfish Family.

In general these fish have large, bulbous heads with numerous spines and skin flaps, large protruding eyes, and venomous spines in the foredorsal, ventral, and anal fins. Puncture wounds from these spines are painful but seldom life threatening.

Scorpionfish are masters at camouflage and can change color and shape to blend into the background. Concealed, they rest motionless on the bottom waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

In Mexican fishing waters , the Red Scorpionfish is found from Magdalena Bay south on the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, in the Sea of Cortez south of the Santa RosaliaSan Carlos, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala. The Red Scorpionfish should be treated as “hazardous” and released as soon as possible.

Red Scorpionfish picture

Red Scorpionfish picture

Red Scorpionfish, Pontinus furcirhinus: Photos courtesy of John Snow.

Red Scorpionfish picture

Red Scorpionfish picture

Red Scorpionfish picture

Red Scorpionfish picture

Red Scorpionfish, Pontinus furcirhinus: Caught during a fishing trip with Captain Pata in the panga Salomé, La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in 73-degree water, March 2006, in 200-foot deep water, midday, utilizing a Sabiki Rig, on the Outer Gordo Bank. Sizes approximately 11 inches and 6 inchs. Seldom caught and viewed by locals as potentially dangerous and a "catch and release as soon as possible." Even the birds won’t touch a released Scorpionfish! Fish identification confirmed by Dr. Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Institute, Panama.

Red Scorpionfish Photo 1

Red Scorpionfish, Pontinus furcirhinus: Caught while fishing with Captain Pata in the panga Salome, La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in 73-degree water, in April 2003, in 100 to 200-foot deep water, in the first hour of morning light, utilizing a 30-pound test, 40-pound two dropper loop rig, with swivel, 3-ounce bank sinker, and Mustad 92553 hooks, size 2/0 on a whole squid, on the Inner Gordo Bank. Size approximately 14 inches and 1.5 pounds, and was an average fighter.Description and photo courtesy John Snow. Fish species identification courtesy Dr. Milton Love, UC Santa Barbara.

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