Pacific Porgy, Calamus brachysomus
The Pacific Porgy, Calamus brachysomus, whose common Spanish name is pluma marotilla, and whose local name is mojarra, is a species in the family Sparidae, the Porgies, known as plumas in Mexico. Globally, there are thirteen species in the genus Calamus, of which nine are found in Mexican waters, eight in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.
The Pacific Porgies are characterized by the distinct, steep, and straight profile of their large forehead, their large silvery lips, their long broad snout, and their deep compressed body that has a depth that is 47 – 51% of standard length. They are silvery brown, with irregular brown blotches and five obscure bars on their sides; these bars are highly visible upon collection but fade quickly thereafter. They are reported to have a barred or blotched color pattern when hiding which fades when they swim into the open. Their mouth is small with their lower jaw featuring two rows of conical and enlarged teeth, comprised of canines at the front and molar-like teeth at the rear. Their anal fin has three spines and ten rays, their caudal fin is forked, their dorsal fin is low on the body with 12 or 13 spines with the third and fourth being the longest and 11 to 13 rays, and their pectoral fins are long with 13 to 16 rays and a black axil reaching past the anal fin origin. Their body is covered with smooth scales.
The Pacific Porgies are found in clear water adjacent to coral and rocky reefs relatively close to shore at depths up to 260 feet. They reach a maximum length of 61 cm (24.0 inches). They have a wide distribution being found in all coastal Mexican waters of the Pacific.
The Pacific Porgy is an easy fish to identify and cannot be easily confused with any other species.
The Pacific Porgies are fairly abundant at certain times of the year and can be caught out of 100-feet water on traditional bottom rigs utilizing cut squid or small chunks of fish. Initially they are very strong foes but normally “give up” at about the 50-feet depth level. They are an excellent food fish and one of the very best the Sea of Cortez has to offer, however, as pictured below, about 10% of the population contains a small granular and unknown parasite within the meat. Care must be taken to avoid consumption of this parasite and we recommend that any contaminated fish be discarded. This parasite is known locally as “Trichina” and is also found in the larger Pacific Sierra.