Panamic Porkfish, Anisotremus taeniatus
The Panamic Porkfish, Anisotremus taeniatus, whose common Spanish name is burro bandera and whose local name is bandera, is a species in the Grunt or Haemulidae Family, known collectively as burros in Mexico. Globally, there are ten species in the genus Anisotremus, six of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.
The Panamic Porkfish have deep bodies with a depth that is approximately 45 – 47% of standard length. They have a bright yellow overall appearance, which is also present on their fins, and two distinguishing vertical black bars, the first running through their eyes and extending well into their snout and the second beginning just in front of their dorsal fin and reaching their pectoral fins. They also have dark-edged pale blue horizontal stripes on their sides. They have short heads with blunt snouts and small mouths with thick lips. Their anal fin has 3 wide thick spines, the second being the longest and 5 times longer than the first and 1.2 times longer than the third. Their caudal fin is deeply forked and their pectoral fins are exceedingly long.
The Panamic Porkfish are inshore nocturnal bottom dwellers found around rocky reefs and caves at depths up to 75 feet. They reach a maximum of 38 cm (15 inches) in length and 1 kg (2.2 pounds) in weight. They are preyed upon by snappers, groupers, sharks, and other large piscivores. The Panamic Porkfish is a poorly studies species and very little is known about its behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Panamic Porkfish are found from Magdalena Bay southward along the south west coast of Baja, in the southern third of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.
The Panamic Porkfish is virtually identical to the Porkfish, Anisotremus virginicus, a Pacific Ocean only species (silvery-gray color with yellow stripes) and can be confused with the Blue-and-Gold Snapper, Lutjanus viridis (more aerodynamic body) and the Silvergray Grunt, Anisotremus caesius (lacks line through eye).
The Panamic Porkfish are too rare and too small to be of interest to most.
Panamic Porkfish, Anisotremus taeniatus. Underwater photo taken in coastal waters off Buena Vista, Baja California Sur, July 2017. Length: 25 cm (10 inches). Photo courtesy of Bob Hillis, Ivins, UT.
Panamic Porkfish, Anisotremus taeniatus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, May 2014. Length: 32 cm (12 inches).