Stephanolepis hispida

Stephanolepis hispida is a species of the order Tetraodontiformes belonging to the family Monacanthidae. It is a species found in subtropical waters of the western Atlantic Ocean, from the Canadian coast of Nova Scotia to Uruguay, including in between the Bermuda Islands and the entire Gulf of Mexico. It is also present in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, from the Canary Islands to the coasts of Angola to the east. Specimens are usually found near the seabed of reefs, as well as in sandy and/or muddy areas and in masses of sargassum seaweed, at depths between the surface and 300 meters.

The maximum size of Stephanolepis hispida is 27 cm, although it is common to observe specimens that do not exceed 16-17 cm in total length. The body is laterally compressed, adopting a relatively high and deep oval shape. It has a slightly elongated snout with a small but robust mouth at the end. The eyes, located on the sides of the face, are large and yellow. Above the vertical back of the eyes, we find on the dorsal side a prominent and robust retractable spine. After a length greater than the equivalent of the length of the retractile spine, we find the second dorsal fin, formed by between 29 and 35 soft rays. The anal fin consists of only spiny rays (30-35) and runs symmetrically with the second dorsal fin. The pectoral fins are small, the ventral fins are formed by a robust spine whose posterior margin is equipped with a long membrane that reaches almost to the beginning of the anal fin. Finally, the caudal fin is large in size and has a rounded shape.

As for the coloration of the body of Stephanolepis hispida, its livery is cryptic, with pale brown as the base color, with olive, green or dark brown spots.

Stephanolepis hispida specimens show sexual dimorphism. Males have the first ray of the second dorsal fin very long, while in females all the dorsal fin rays are shorter and of the same height.


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