Graybar Grunt, Haemulon sexfasciatum
The Graybar Grunt, Haemulon sexfasciatum, whose common Spanish name is burro almejero, 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 Graybar Grunts have moderately elongated bodies with an elevated compressed back and a depth that is 36 to 38% of standard length. They have five or six prominent vertical black bars that cover the upper two-thirds of their sides. The spaces between these bars are white to yellow and the remainder of their head and body is silvery white. Their head and bars are covered with small black spots. Their anal and pelvic fins are transparent, Juveniles have dark mid-lateral stripes that converge with a black spot on their caudal fin base; they also have two dark stripes, the first running from the snout to the dorsal fin origin and the second from the upper margin of the eye to the dorsal surface of the tail base.
The Graybar Grunts are found in various locations including sand, rubble, and rocky reefs at depths up to 100 feet. They are very abundant in some sections of the Gulf forming huge daytime aggregations around rocky reefs. They reach a maximum length of 71 cm (28 inches) and weigh up to 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds). 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 Graybar Grunts are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, in the southern half of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coastal mainland south to Guatemala. They are more abundant in the central and southern portions of the Sea of Cortez.
The Graybar Grunt is a straightforward identification that cannot be confused with any other species.
The Graybar Grunts are viewed as excellent table fare when fish of adequate size are caught in abundance. They can be caught off the beach on cut squid, small whole or cut up large Lightfoot Sally Crabs, but only during predawn hours.