Palometa, Trachinotus goodei

The Palometa, Trachinotus goodei, whose common Spanish name is pámpano listado, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. This is perhaps the most beautiful fish found in Mexican waters of the Atlantic. There are twenty global members of the genus Trachinotus, seven of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific.

The Palometas have diamond-shaped strongly compressed bodies with similar upper and lower profiles and a depth that is 38 to 42% of standard length. They have an overall silver coloration with two to five prominent narrow dark bars on their sides followed by two or three dark spots. Their fins are dark. Their snout is bluntly pointed and extendible and their mouth reaches under the eyes. They have long pointed anal and dorsal fin lobes with anal and dorsal fin bases of equal length. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 16 to 18 rays; their dorsal fin has six short isolated spines followed by 19 or 20 rays; and their pectoral fin is shorter than head length. Their caudal fin is strongly forked. They have 8 to 14 gill rakers and no finlets or scutes. Their body is covered with small oval scales.

The Palometas are a coastal pelagic species found demersal in the surf zone along beaches, vegetated bottoms, and around reefs at depths up to 100 feet. They reach a maximum length of 51 cm (20 inches). Very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Palometa are found in all waters of the Atlantic with the exception that they are absent from of the northeast coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Palometa is easy to identify and cannot be confused with other species found in the Atlantic. It is, however, very similar to the Gafftopsail Pompano, Trachinotus rhodopus, but has a slightly more elongated body, darker fins, and longer and slenderer caudal fin lobes.

The Palometas are fairly common in the surf around the Yucatán and can be caught from shore with some regularity. They are considered excellent table fare.

Palometa, Trachinotus goodei. Fish caught off the beach at Playa del Carmen, Yucatán, Quintana Roo, February 2016. Length: 28 cm (11 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.