Baja FreeDiver - Fish ID

Fish Family - Bass and Grouper

Fish ID - Green Barred Pargo (Hoplopagrus guentherii)

You may be snorkeling in the vicinity of several Green Barred Pargo and never know it. That is because these elusive fishes are often hiding in rocky caves, especially during daylight hours, as they are nocturnal hunters. To have a look at them while the sun is still visible, you can either lure them out with bait to catch a glimpse of them right before they scurry off beneath their underwater shelters.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Green Barred Pargo. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - Leopard Grouper (Mycteroperca prionura)

The Leopard Grouper may be seen by the nearshore snorkler swimming amongst rocks and caves, using it's ability to camouflage itself so as to escape your sight. Once it knows that it has been seen, it will usually scurry away and hide in a cave.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Leopard Grouper. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Fish ID - Spotted Sand Bass (Paralabrax maculatofasciatus)

The Spotted Sand Bass is a common site for the nearshore snorkler, especially around Mulege. Here, the fish can be seen lying in wait for unsuspecting prey in the rocks and the sea grass.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Spotted Sand Bass. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - Starry Grouper, Flag Cabrilla (Epinephelus labriformis)

The Starry Grouper is always a joy to see for the free-diver in Baja. If you come upon one outside of a cave, you will most likely see it camouflaged up against a rock, propped up on it's pectoral fins, absolutely still, waiting for an unwitting prey to catch. The white spots on the green skin make it an interesting spectacle.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Starry Grouper. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Bigeye

Fish ID - Glasseye Snapper (Heteropriacantus cruentatus)

The Glasseye Snapper is a rather uncommon site. They usually spend the daylight hours hidden deep in underwater caves. Their dark red color, made even more dark by the shadows, makes them difficult to spot.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Glasseye Snapper. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Eels

Fish ID - Jewel Moray (Muraena lentiginosa)

If you happen to come upon a Jeweled Moray, do not be afraid if it's jaw is open. This is necessary for the fish to breathe. Instead of being fearful, you may just want to sit back and enjoy the way it navigates so gracefully through caves and rocks. For the lover of color, this eel makes for an interesting spectacle as well.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Jeweled Moray Eel. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - Snowflake Moray (Echidna nebulosa)

The Snowflake Moray is not nearly as intimidating as it's close relative the Green Moray Eel. It's much smaller body size and mouth make for this. The snowflake-like patterns covering the animal's skin make for unmistakeable visual identification.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Snowflake Moray Eel. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Grunts

Fish ID - Burrito Grunt (Anisotremus interruptus )

The Burrito Grunt is a common site for the nearshore snorkler. The fish can be found just a few feet off shore, often swimming alone or in relatively small schools.

Back to Top
 Baja FreeDiver. Burrito Grunt. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - Graybar Grunt (Haemulon sexfasciatum)

Put on your mask and venture out just a few feet from where the land meets the ocean. That may be all it takes to encounter the Graybar Grunt.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Graybar Grunt. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - Panamic Porkfish (Anisotremus taeniatus)

The Panamic Porkfish makes for a magnificent spectacle for the free-diver who is fortunate enough to come upon one. It may not just be one fish, but rather a school, as these brightly colored yellow and blue animals often travel in schools.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Panamic Porkfish. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish - ID Spottail Grunt (Haemulon sexfasciatum)

The Spottail Grunt can often be seen just off the beach traveling in large schools. Rarely will the nearshore snorkler see one alone. Look hard enough and you may see other species of fish attempting to blend in with the school so as to hide from potential predators.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Spottail grunt. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish - ID Wavyline Grunt (Microlepidotus inornatus)

Much like the Spottail Grunt, the Wavyline Grunt will rarely be seen navigating through the water alone. These large schools are fun to swim through.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Wavyline Grunt. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Jacks

Fish - ID Golden Trevally (Gnathanodon speciosus)

You will rarely see a Golden Trevally near the surface of the water. That is due to the fact that these brilliantly colored fish spend most of their days hunting for benthic invertebrates which they suck off of the bottom.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Golden Trevally Jack. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish - ID Green Jack (Carangoides caballus)

If you come upon the Green Jack during your underwater excursions, note that their may well be Toro or Gafftopsail Pompano in the vicinity. The fish is not much to look at, but it's body is interesting as it is streamlined like that of a tuna.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Green Jack. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish - ID Mexican Lookdown (Selene brevoortii)

Flashes of brilliant silver and yellow pass by at a frenetic pace. You pause a moment to fix your gaze upon just one fish so as to get a read on what is speeding past your field of view. You realize that you are in the midst of a school of Mexican Lookdown.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Mexican Lookdown. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish - Roosterfish (Nematistius pectoralis)

The Roosterfish is a favorite of beach anglers. The animal puts up a strong fight. Underwater, you may catch a glimpse of their marvelous attack strategy. Their rooster-like dorsal fin goes up and their prey scurry to escape. To watch this natural phenomenon occur underwater is fascinating.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Roosterfish. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Mojarra

Fish ID - Yellowfin Mojarra (Gerres cinereus)

The Yellowfin Mojarra is often difficult to spot due to it's excellent camouflage techniques. It is not only the color of the fish that makes it hard to distinguish from a sand background, but also it's ability to remain nearly absolutely still.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Yellowfin Mojara Black & White. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - Pacific Porgy (Gerres cinereus)

The Pacific Porgy is often difficult to spot, as it uses the sand to camouflage itself from the eye of potential predators. Rarely will the free-diver see more that one of these fish in the same location.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Pacific Porgy. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Scorpionfish/Rockfish

Fish ID - California Scorpionfish (Scorpaena guttata)

The California Scorpionfish will most likely be encountered camouflaged up against a rock, nearly invisible to the untrained eye. The fish has very sharp fins that are venomous, but not life-threatening.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Cabezon. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - UID Scorpionfish (?)

This Scorpionfish is currently unidentified by Baja FreeDiver.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. UID Scorpionfish. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Seachubs

Fish ID - California Opaleye (Girella nigricans)

The California Opaleye is a frequent site in the waters off Baja California.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. California Opaleye. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - Cortez Chub, Cortez Sea Chub (Kyphosus elegans)

The Cortez Chub can be found swimming amongst both rocky and sandy sea floors, although the fish prefers rocky substrates. It's mostly silver body with yellow stripes makes it an interesting spectacle.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Cortez Chub. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Snapper

Fish ID - Blue and Gold Snapper (Lutjanus viridis)

The Blue and Gold Snapper may often be found swimming in large schools close to the shore. They prefer to inhabit rocky reefs. Swimming through large schools of these magnificently colored fish can be an extraordinary experience for the underwater adventurer.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Blue and Gold Snapper. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Triggerfish

Fish ID - Finescale Triggerfish (Balistes-polylepis)

A strange noise is entering in through your ear canal. Your mind tries to label it. 'It must be the sound of pebbles rubbing up against each other,' you think to yourself. Out of your peripheral vision you see a few diamond shaped fish looking at you. They are mostly grey in color and are chomping their teeth. 'So that is where the sound is coming from,' you think to yourself, correctly. You are in the midst of the Finescale Triggerfish.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver - Finescale Triggerfish. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish Family - Wrasses

Fish ID - Banded Wrasse (Halichoeres notospilus)

The Banded Wrasse's colorful exterior makes it a joy to see swimming through the rocks and caves that it inhabits.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Banded Wrasse. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Fish ID - Mexican Hogfish (Bodianus diplotaenia)

The Mexican Hogfish is a common site for the nearshore adventurer in Baja.

Back to Top
Baja FreeDiver. Mexican Hogfish. Photo: Mike Vos
Conservation Status: Least Concern