Whitesnout Searobin, Prionotus albirostris: The Whitesnout Searobin is gray-brown with a white underside, and it is characterized by white spots on the lips at the corners of the mouth, which gives rise to its name. The mouths of the Whitesnout Searobin is small, and the jaw does not reach the level of the eyes. The caudal fin is black with a single central white bar. The Whitesnout Searobin's pectoral fins are long with the upper half spotted and the lower half black. The first dorsal spine has a serrated front edge.
The Whitesnout Searobin is reported to reach a maximum length of 20 cm (7.9 inches) but we have collected a fish that was 26.5 cm (10.4 inches) extending the known maximum length for this species. They are normally found in the first 100 feet of the water column over sandy bottoms. It is more active at night, “walking” the bottom on it long pectorals, seeking food, and it is submerged in sand during the day. It feeds on mollusks and small crustaceans.
The Whitesnout Searobin is a member of the Triglidae Family and genus Prionotus, which includes Searobins and gurnads. Globally there are 109 members of the Triglidae Family and 22 species of the Prionotus genus, of which three are found in Mexican waters. The Searobins, relatives of the scorpionfish, have square, broad heads armed with spines. They have two separate dorsal fins and two or three enlarged free rays on the lower pectoral fins. These rays appear to be wings that allow the Searobins to glide through the water and “walk” the bottom in quest of food. Searobins are able to produce sound.
The Whitesnout Searobin may be confused with other Searobins including: the Barred Searobin, Bellator loxias (several rows of yellow and orange bars on the sides); the Bristly Searobin, Prionotus horrens (short pectoral fins, caudal fin with large dark spots); the Common Searobin, Prionotus ruscaruis (clear pectoral fins with dark edges); the Lumptail or Blackfin Searobin, Prionotus stephanophrys (long black pectoral fins, spotted caudal fin, long mouth and a black spot on the dorsal fin between the fourth and fifth spines); the Naked Belly Searobin, Bellator gymnostethus (short first dorsal spine, one or two dark spots on first dorsal fin); the Split-Nose Searobin, Bellator xenisma (first dorsal spine very long); and the Two Beak Searobin, Prionotus birostiatus (flat head, short pectoral free rays, three dark bars on the caudal fin).
The Whitesnout Searobin has a limited distribution in Mexican fishing waters. It is absent along the Pacific side of Baja California and the oceanic islands, but is found in the lower two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez and along the coast of mainland Mexico south to Guatemala.