Scrawled Filefish, Scrawled Leatherjacket
Lija Tildada, Lija Trompa
(Aluterus scriptus)

Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus: The Scrawled Filefish is characterized by an overall olive brown coloration, irregular blue spots, short lines, concave upper and lower head profiles, and a long rounded caudal fin.

The Scrawled Filefish is normally found in the first 300 feet of the water column around coral and rocky reefs. It is somewhat similar to the Uniform Filefish, Alutheus monocerus, which has a convex upper head profile and concave lower profile, and no spots, but numerous blotches, and a straight caudal fin. The Scrawled Filefish reaches a length of just over 40 inches.

The Scrawled Filefish is a member of the Monacanthidae Family which includes the filefishes of the genus Aluterus. They are characterized by their strongly compressed elongated oval bodies and have a long and slender first dorsal spine over the eye that can be locked in position, a small second spine and no third spine.

The Scrawled Filefish has no pelvic fins. It is a close relative of the triggerfish (Balistidae) but has a more compressed body, a more pointed snout, and scales that give the skin a coarse texture, giving rise to its alternate name, leatherjack. The Scrawled Filefish has the ability to change color and adapt to its surroundings for camouflage. It is a secretive fish that hides out in caves, and is an omnivorous feeder preying on a great variety of benthic animal and plant life. There are currently 95 members of the Monacanthidae Family and six species of Aluterus known globally of which three are found in Mexican waters.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

In Mexican fishing waters , the Scrawled Filefish is found south of Magdalena Bay on the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula, in the lower two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez, along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala, and around all oceanic islands.

Scrawled Filefish picture

Scrawled Filefish picture

Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus: Photos courtesy John Snow.

Scrawled Filefish picture

Scrawled Filefish picture

Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus: Photos courtesy John Snow.

Scrawled Filefish picture

Scrawled Filefish, Aluterus scriptus: Caught during a fishing trip with Capt. Pata in the panga Salome, La Playita, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, midmorning in November 2001, in 78-degree, 50 to 100-foot deep water, utilizing a 30-pound test line with a 40-pound, two dropper loop rig, with swivel, 3-ounce bank sinker, and Mustad 92553 hooks, size 2/0, on a live sardine, 25 miles north of La Playita. Size approximately 12 inches and 1.5 pounds. Viewed by locals as a “catch and release.” Description and photo courtesy John Snow.

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