Whitesnout Searobin, Prionotus albirostris
The Whitesnout Searobin, Prionotus albirostris, whose common Spanish name is vaca cariblanca, is a species in the family Triglidae, the Searobins, known as rubios and vacas in Mexico. Globally, there twenty three species in the genus Prionotus, of which fifteen are found in Mexican waters, ten in the Atlantic and five in the Pacific.
The Whitesnout Searobins have rectangular block-like bodies that are gray brown in color with darker mottling and white undersides. Their large square bony head features large eyes and is covered with many ridges and spines. Their caudal fin is black with a single central white bar and white margin. Their dorsal fin is dusky with brown mottling and spotting. Their pectoral fins are spotted on the upper half and black on the lower half. They are characterized by white spots that are found on their lips at the corner of their mouth, giving rise to their name. Their mouth is small and their jaw does not reach eye level. Their first dorsal fin has ten spines, the first with a serrated edge, and their second dorsal fin has twelve rays. Their pectoral fins are exceedingly long, reaching past the second dorsal fin. Their body is covered with very rough scales.
The Whitesnout Searobins are found over and within sandy and muddy bottoms at depths between 60 and 320 feet. They are more active and feed at night; during the day they are und submerged in sand. They reach a maximum length of 30 cm (12 inches), as established by a fish in my possession. They are found in all waters of the Pacific, except that they are absent from along the west coast of Baja north of Magdalena Bay.
The Whitesnout Searobin can be confused with the Lumptail Searobin, Prionotus stephanophrys (long black pectoral fins; spotted caudal fin; long mouth; black spot on the dorsal fin between the fourth and fifth spine).
Due to their bony structure and rarity, the Whitesnout Searobins are of limited interest to most. They are a frequent by-catch of deepwater shrimp trawlers around the tip of Baja.