Cortez Grunt, Haemulon flaviguttatum
The Cortez Grunt, Haemulon flaviguttatum, whose common Spanish name is burro de Corteź, is a species in the Grunt or Haemulidae Family, known collectively as burros in Mexico. Globally, there are twenty-one species in the genus Haemulon, and all twenty-one are found in Mexican waters, fourteen in the Atlantic and seven in the Pacific.
The Cortez Grunts have oblong compressed bodies with a depth that is 41 to 43% of standard length. Their head features an oblique mouth and a projecting lower jaw that opens at the level of the center of their eye. They are silvery-gray in appearance with pearly blue spots on each body scale. They have yellow fins except for their forked caudal fin which is dark with yellow trim. Their dorsal fin is continuous with a small notch in the middle.
The Cortez Grunts are an inshore schooling species found near rocky reefs and caves at depths up to 350 feet. They each a maximum length of 48 cm (19 inches) and weigh about 1 kg (2.2 pounds). They are nocturnal feeders. They are a poorly studied species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Cortez Grunts are found in all waters of the Pacific.
The Cortez Grunt can be confused with the Latin Grunt, Haemulon steindachneri (oblique brown lines on sides; black spot at caudal fin base) and the Spottail Grunt, Haemulon maculicauda (overall dark gray appearance; pale lines on sides; gray anal and dorsal fins).
The Cortez Grunts are generally too small and too rare to be of interest to most. They are accessible from the beach via surf fishing at certain times of the year but virtually disappear one hour after the first morning light.
Cortez Grunt, Haemulon flaviguttatum. Fish caught in coastal waters adjacent to Roca Sonsag, San Felipe, Baja California, May 2015. Length 23 cm (9.1 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Fullerton, CA.
Cortez Grunt, Haemulon flaviguttatum. Fish caught from shore at Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, January 2017. Length: 24 cm (9.4 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Note these two photos were taken of the same fish, the first at the time of the catch, and the second four hours later, with the fish having radically different appearances which is illustration of the complexities of the identification of fish that are not truly fresh.
Cortez Grunt, Haemulon flaviguttatum. Fish caught within the coastal water of Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, May 2017. Length: 33 cm (13 inches).