Saucereye Porgy, Calamus calamus
The Saucereye Porgy, Calamus calamus, whose common Spanish name is pluma calamo is a member of the Porgy or Sparidae Family, known collectively as plumas in Mexico. Globally, there are 13 species in the genus Calamus, of which nine are found in Mexican waters, eight in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.
The Saucereye Porgies have “porgy-like”, laterally compressed, and relatively deep bodies with a depth that is 44% to 48% of standard length. They are iridescent silver with a bright blue curved line under their eyes. Their forehead and snout have yellow tinges and their cheeks have yellow and blue spotting than can fuse into lines. They have blue spots on top of their gill covers and the base of their pectoral fins. Their head is deep with a steep profile at a 51o to 55o angle (a key to identification) and their forehead has a bump before the eyes. They have large eyes and a small mouth with thin lips that do not reach the eyes. They are equipped with canine teeth, two rows of slender conical teeth on their top jaw, three rows of slender conical teeth on the bottom at the front of each jaw, and small molariform teeth on the sides of each jaw. Their anal fin has three short spines and 11 rays; their caudal fin is forked; their dorsal fin is low with 13 spines and 12 rays; and their pectoral fins are long and reach past the anal fin origin. Their body is covered with scales.
The Saucereye Porgies are a common coastal species found in seagrasses, over sandy bottoms, and within coral reefs at depths up to 250 feet. They reach a maximum length of 56 cm (22 inches) and weight of 1.4 kg (3 pounds). They are abundant throughout most of their range; adults are found in coral areas whereas juveniles are found in areas with vegetation. They are bottom dwellers and feed primarily on invertebrates including brittle stars, crabs, mollusks, sea urchins, and worms. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.
In Mexican waters the Saucereye Porgies are found in all waters of the Atlantic.
The Saucereye Porgy is very similar in shape to a series of Porgies and is most likely confused with the Jolthead Porgy, Calamus bajonado (sloping 38o to 42o head profile), the Knobbed Porgy, Calamus nodosus (purple and yellow spotted cheeks), the Littlehead Porgy, Calamus proridens (blue rectangle behind each eye), the Pluma Porgy, Calamus pennatula (blue rectangle behind each eye), and the Whitebone Porgy, Calamus leucosteus (blue lines above and below each eye).
From a conservation perspective, the Saucereye Porgies are considered of Least Concern, being widely distributed and abundant with stable or slightly declining populations. They are caught as a by-catch by shrimp trawlers and are targeted by recreational fishermen. They are considered an excellent food fish and sold commercially in Cuba. They are unregulated in most parts of their range, except for coastal waters of the southeast United States. They are subject to habitat destruction and overfishing in some parts of their range.
Saucereye Porgy, Calamus calamus. Fish caught from coastal waters off Key West, Florida, March 2017. Length: 43 cm (17 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Dean Kimberly, Atlanta, GA.