Panamic Grunt

Panamic Grunt, Pomadasys panamensis

The Panamic Grunt, Pomadasys panamensis, whose common Spanish name is roncacho mapache, is a species in the Grunt or Haemulidae Family, known collectively as burros in Mexico. Globally, there are thirty-six species in the genus Pomadasys, five of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific.

The Panamic Grunts have elongated oval bodies that are strongly compressed and feature a depth that is 40 to 42% of standard length. They have an overall silvery appearance with a prominent black blotch behind the upper edge of their gill cover and a series of short bars just under their dorsal fin. They have yellowish blotches on their anal and caudal fins, a yellow dorsal fin, and transparent pectoral and pelvic fins. Their head has a convex forehead and a mouth that reaches under the middle of the eyes and features thin lips. Their anal fin has 3 spines, the second being slender, and 7 or 8 rays, their dorsal fin has 12 spines and is deeply notched, and their pectoral fins are very long reaching the anal fin base.

The Panamic Grunts are inshore bottom dwellers found over sandy substrate and at depths up to 350 feet. They can also be found within rocky terrain and in mangroves within estuaries on a limited basis. They reach a maximum 39 cm (15 inches) length and 1 kg (2.2 pounds) in weight. They are a relatively unknown species and very little is known about their behavior patterns.

In Mexican waters the Panamic Grunt 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 Panamic Grunt can be confused with the Longspine Grunt, Pomadasys macracanthus  (long thick second anal spine), the Purplemouth Grunt, Pomadasys bayanus (elongated body; long thick second anal spine), and the Sand Grunt, Pomadasys branickii (13 dorsal spines).

The Panamic Grunts are a fairly frequent by-catch of deep water shrimp trawlers in certain areas of the Tropical Eastern Pacific.  They are too small and too rare to be of interest to most.

Panamic Grunt, Pomadasys panamensis, juvenile. Fish caught with Jimmy Camacho, Jimmy’s Sportfishing, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, (, 613-114-0761; 612-204-1960) within the coastal waters of Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, March 2017. Length: 16 cm (6.3 inches).

Panamic Grunt, Pomadasys panamensis, juvenile. Fish caught from coastal waters off Mazatlán, Sinaloa, April 2013. Length: 17 cm (6.7 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Panamic Grunt, Pomadasys panamensis. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of Bahía Kino, Sonora, November 2014. Length: 27 cm (11 inches). Photo courtesy of Maria Johnson, Prescott College Kino Bay Center, Kino Bay, Sonora.