Latin Grunt

Latin Grunt, Haemulon steindachneri

The Latin Grunt, Haemulon steindachneri, whose common Spanish name is burro latino, 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 Latin Grunts have elongated compressed bodies with a depth that is 35 to 37% of standard length. They have a silvery appearance with narrow brownish bars on their sides, which follow the scale rows. They have a prominent black spot at the base of their tail, a key to identification. They have a short mouth that opens well below eye level. Their caudal fin is forked and their dorsal fin is continuous with a modest notch in the middle. All their fins are a silvery yellow-brown color.

The Latin Grunts are a schooling species found in sandy areas adjacent to rocks and reefs at depths up to 250 feet. They reach a maximum length of 35 cm (14 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 they are found in both the Atlantic and Pacific, making it a somewhat unique species. In the Atlantic they are found in all oceanic waters; in the Pacific, they are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the southwest coast of Baja, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

The Latin Grunt can be easily confused with the Cortez Grunt, Haemulon flaviguttatum (no black spot at tail base) and the Spottail Grunt, Haemulon maculicauda (overall dark gray appearance; pale lines on sides; gray anal and dorsal fins).

The Latin Grunts are exceedingly abundant in coastal waters off Magdalena Bay however they are deemed to be a poor food fish and are a “catch and release.”

Latin Grunt, Haemulon steindachneri. Fish caught from coastal waters  off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, January 2012. Length: 24.0 cm (9.4 inches).

Latin Grunt, Haemulon steindachneri. Fish caught from waters adjacent to Roca Consag, San Felipe, Baja California, May 2015. Length: 23 cm (9.1 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Fullerton, CA.

Latin Grunt, Haemulon steindachneriFish caught with Jimmy Camacho, Jimmy’s Sportfishing, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, (Jimmyhcamacho@gmail.com, 613-114-0761; 612-204-1960) within the coastal waters of Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur,  May 2017. Length: 25 cm (10 inches).