Rosy Scorpionfish

Rosy Scorpionfish, Pontinus Species A

The Rosy Scorpionfish, Pontinus Species A, whose common Spanish name is “Puñal Rosado”, is a member of the Scorpionfish or Scorpaenidae Family, known collectively as “Escorpiónes” or “Lapóns” in Mexico. It is quite new to science and its taxonomy has not yet been fully documented and therefore a species has yet to be formally assigned.

The Rosy Scorpionfish has a wide compressed body that tapers toward both ends with a width that is 37 to 41% of standard length. Overall they are a pinkish-red (rosy!) fish with a white head and belly. The have irregular brown bars on the sides and a broken brown line along the lateral line. The fins are reddish with brown spotting on the caudal, soft dorsal and pectoral fins. The head is very bony with numerous spines. They have large mouths and large eyes. They lack pitting in front of and behind the eye; the uppermost spine on the gill cover is the longest. The anal fin has three spines, the second of which is long, and three rays; their caudal fin is straight; their dorsal fin has seven spines (the second, third and fourth being the longest and of approximate equal length), and nine or ten rays; and, their pectoral fins have sixteen to eighteen rays. They have thirteen gill rakers. Their bodies are covered with rough scales.

The Rosy Scorpionfish reach a maximum length of 30 cm (11.8 inches), with this maximum established by a fish in my possession, and are found around rocky structure at depths between 150 and 450 feet. This is an exceedingly rare species with a very limited distribution that is seldom seen my humans. Very little is known about its behavioral patterns. They are found along the southwest coast of Baja from Magdalena Bay to Cabo San Lucas and along west coast of the mainland from Mazatlán to Guatemala.

The Rosy Scorpionfish is most likely confused with the Speckled Scorpionfish, Pontinus sierra (lacks the prominent spotting on the caudal and soft dorsal fins).

The Rosy Scorpionfish although fairly rare is considered to be a good eating fish. However, they are difficult to handle and if caught for most a “catch and release.” Caution: this scorpionfish, like all scorpionfish, should be treated as “hazardous” and released as soon as possible, being careful not to allow its poisonous spines to penetrate the skin.

Rosy Scorpionfish

    Rosy Scorpionfish, Pontinus species A: Provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, December 2009. Size: 30 cm (11.8 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography and reconfirmed by Dr. John Hyde, NOAA, La Jolla, CA.
Rosy Scorpionfish, Pontinus species A: Provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, December 2009. Length: 30 cm (11.8 inches). Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography and reconfirmed by Dr. John Hyde, NOAA, La Jolla, CA.