Pacific Pompano

Pacific Pompano, Peprilus simillimus

The Pacific Pompano, Peprilus simillimus, whose common Spanish name is palometa, is a member of the Butterfish or Stromateidae Family, known collectively as palometas in Mexico. There are only seven global members of the Peprilus Genus, of which six are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific.

The Pacific Pompanos have deep oval strongly compressed bodies with a depth that is 41 to 49% of standard length. They are iridescent blue-green in color and transition to silver ventrally. They have a small oblique mouth that ends before the eyes and a short blunt snout that is equal to or greater than the diameter of the eyes (a key to identification). Their eyes have a fatty ring around them. Their lower jaw projects beyond the upper jaw and features very small teeth. Their anal and dorsal fins have long bases with front lobes that are only slightly raised in a blunt point; their anal fin is much lower than the dorsal fin. Their anal fin has two spines and 38 to 41 rays; their caudal fin is deeply forked; their dorsal fin has three spines and 43 to 47 rays; and their pectoral fins are long and pointed. They are devoid of pelvic fins. They have 23 to 27 gill rakers and 30 or 31 vertebrae. Their lateral line is high and follows the upper body profile. They are covered with small scales.

The Pacific Pompanos are found over sandy bottoms of exposed coasts at depths up to 1,025 feet. They reach a maximum length of 36 cm (14 inches). They are found along the entire west coast of Baja and in the lower two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

The Pacific Pompano is vertically identical to the Gulf Butterfish, Perrilus burti (found only in the Atlantic Ocean), the Pacific Harvestfish, Peprilus medius (long anal and dorsal front fin lobes), and the Salema Butterfish, Peprilus synderi (36 vertebrae).  The latter is found in the same geographic areas, thus X-ray is required to distinguish the two fish.

The Pacific Pomano is relatively small in stature and they are rare and not a significant targeted commercial or recreational species.

Pacific Pompano, Peprilus simillimus: Provided by the commercial fishermen in the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, July 2009. Length: 24 cm (9.4 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.
Pacific Pompano, Peprilus simillimus: Provided by the commercial fishermen in the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, July 2009. Length: 24 cm (9.4 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.