Elongate Grunt

Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus

The Elongate Grunt, Orthopristis reddingi, whose common Spanish name is burrito rayado, is a species in the Grunt or Haemulidae Family, known collectively as burrors and roncos in Mexico. Globally, there are only eight species in the genus Orthopristis, three of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.

The Elongate Grunts have a streamlined shape, overall silver appearance, and a relatively narrow body featuring a depth that is 32 to 35% of standard length. They have straight head profiles with a long snout and a mouth that does not reach their eyes. Their upper lips, rear of their lower lips, and top of their gill cover are black. Their anal and pelvic fins are dusky; their caudal and dorsal fins are yellowish. Their second anal spine is stout and longer than their eye diameter. Their pectoral fins reach beyond the tip of their pelvic fins.

The Elongate Grunts are found over sandy and muddy bottoms at depths up to 220 feet. They reach a maximum length of 45 cm (18 inches). They are nocturnal carnivores feeding on benthic crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, and small fish. They are a poorly studied species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Elongate Grunt has a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay southward along the west coast of Baja, in the southern half of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

The Elongate Grunt is difficult to identify as it is very similar in appearance to the Raucous Grunt, Haemulopsis leuciscus (third anal spine reaching past anal fin base; snout 11 – 12% of standard length), the Shining Grunt, Haemulopsis nitidus (very short second anal spine; black blotch behind operculum) and the Yellowstripe Grunt, Haemulopsis axillaris (third anal spine longer than second; snout 6 – 7% of standard length).

The Elongate Grunts are very rare in the greater Los Cabos area and are of limited interest to most.

Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus, juvenile. Fish caught off a dock in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, October 2017. Length: 13 cm (5.1 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario Canada. Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus, juvenile. Fish provided by the commercial bait salesmen of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, October 2006. Length: 13.0 cm (5.1 inches). Identification reconfirmed by H.J. Walker, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus, juvenile. Fish caught from within the tidal pools at  El Tule, Baja California Sur, January 2015. Length: 10.5 cm (4.1 inches).

Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Santo Domingo, Baja California Sur, February 2017. Length: 28 cm (11 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus. Fish within the coastal waters of Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, April 2016. Length: 28 cm (11 inches).

Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus. Fish caught within the coastal waters of Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, April 2016. Length: 28 cm (11 inches). 

Elongate Grunt, Haemulopsis elongatus. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, November 2014. Length: 30 cm (12 inches). Photo courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.