Whitesnout Searobin, Prionotus albirostris
The Whitesnout Searobin, Prionotus albirostris, whose common Spanish name is Vaca Cariblanca, is a member of the Searobin or Triglidae Family which are known as “vacas” or “rubios” in Mexico.
The Whitesnout Searobin has a rectangular block like body with a large square bony head with large eyes covered with many ridges and spines. They are gray brown in color with darker mottling and white undersides. The caudal fin is black with a single central white bar and white margin. The dorsal fin is dusky with brown mottling and spotting. The pectoral fins are spotted on the upper half and black on the lower half. They are characterized by white spots that are found on the lips at the corner of the mouths which give rise to the name. The mouths are small and the jaw does not reach the level of the eyes. The first dorsal fin has ten spines the first of which has a serrated edge, and second dorsal fin has twelve rays. The pectoral fins are exceedingly long reaching past the second dorsal fin. The body is covered with very rough scales.
The Whitesnout Searobin is found over and within sand and mud bottoms at depths between 60 and 320 feet. They are more active and feed at night; during the day they are found submerged in sand. They reach a maximum length of 29.5 cm (11.6 inches), established by a fish in my possession.
The Whitesnout Searobin can be confused with the Lumptail 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 spine). The Whitesnout Searobin is found in all Mexican waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from along the west coast of Baja north of Magdalena.
Due to their bony structure and rarity the Whitesnout Searobin is of limited interest to most. They are a frequent by-catch of deepwater shrimp trawlers around the tip of Baja.