Mojarra Grunt

Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderii

The Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderii, whose common Spanish name is burro pecoso and whose local name is roncador, 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 Mojarra Grunts have moderately elongated compressed bodies with a depth that is 35 to 39% of standard length. They have an elevated back, a short blunt head with a long straight profile, and a small oblique mouth that opens below eye level. They have an overall silver-gray appearance with large golden eyes. In most fish the inside of the mouth is orange. Juveniles have a large black spot at the tail base. They have scales that are tipped with one small black dot. A key to identification is that there are 5 or 6 rows of scales between the lateral line and the dorsal fin. Their second anal spine is long and thick, their dorsal fin is continuous with the fourth spine being the longest, and their pectoral fins are long but do not reach the anal fin origin. Their anal, caudal, and dorsal fins are black, and their pectoral and pelvic fins are dusky.

The Mojarra Grunts are found around inshore rocky reefs at depths up to 100 feet. They reach a maximum length of 39 cm (15 inches) and 2.0 kg (4.4 pounds) in weight. They are nocturnal carnivores feeding on benthic crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, and small fish. They are a rare poorly studied species and little is known about their behavior patterns.

In Mexican waters the Mojarra Grunt 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.

The Mojarra Grunt is most likely confused with the Burrito Grunt, Haemulon scudderii (yellow eyes; mature fish with fat lips).

The Mojarra Grunts can be caught off the beach on cut squid during predawn hours, however, they are too rare to be of interest to most.

Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderii, juvenile. Fish caught off the dock in Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, February 2017. Length: 9.8 cm (3.8 inches). Catch courtesy of Ruben Duran, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur. Photo and identification courtesy of Brad Murakami, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderii. Fish caught from shore at Km 21, Cabo Real, Baja California Sur, May 2006. Length: 18.5 cm (7.3 inches).

Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderii. Fish 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, April 2016. Length: 22 cm (8.7 inches).

Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderii. Fish caught in coastal water adjacent to Roca Consag, San Felipe, Baja California, May 2015. Length: 23 cm (9.1 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Fullerton, CA.

Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderiiFish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, April 2015. Length: 24 cm (9.4 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Mojarra Grunt (3)Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderiiFish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, April 2015. Length: 25 cm (9.8 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.

Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderii. Fish 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, April 2016. Length: 28 cm (11 inches).

Mojarra Grunt (5)Mojarra Grunt, Haemulon scudderii. Fish 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, April 2016. Length: 20 cm (7.9 inches). Fish has atypical black finnage.