Floridian Nature

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Florida Fish: Jacks (2)
greater amberjack fish in marine waters of FloridaGreater Amberjack (Seriola dumerili) In the western Atlantic Ocean, the greater amberjack is found off Nova Scotia, Canada south to Brazil including Bermuda, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. A subtropical species, the greater amberjack is often associated with rocky reefs, floating debris, and wrecks at depths ranging from 60-240 feet. It has also been reported at inshore locations off the coast of Florida. Studies have shown that some greater amberjack populations are full time residents along the gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida while other populations migrate from the South Atlantic Bight into inshore waters during certain times of the year. Greater amberjack congregate in schools when they are young, however this schooling behavior decreases as the fish grows older. The oldest fish are primarily solitary.  The greater amberjack is slender, fusiform jack with a short and pointed head and relatively small eyes. The terminally located mouth is large with a posteriorly broad maxilla reaching the middle of the eye. The pectoral fins are shorter than the head, and approximately equal in length to the pelvic fins. The second dorsal fin is much longer than the anal fin and the caudal peduncle is deep with grooves above and below the base of the caudal fin. The greater amberjack, largest of the jacks, has a brownish or bluish grey dorsal side (above the lateral line) and a silvery white ventral side. There is a dark amber stripe running from the nose to just in front of the dorsal fin. Great amberjacks grow to a maximum total length of 6.2 feet (1.9 m). Although the maximum published weight of this species is 80.6 kg, these fish typically reach about 39.7 pounds (18 kg) in weight. Females grow larger in size and live longer than males. Maximum life span is believed to be at least 17 years. As opportunistic predators, greater amberjacks feed on benthic and pelagic fishes as well as squid and crustaceans.

lesser amberjack fish in marine waters of FloridaLesser Amberjack (Seriola fasciata) This small jack is difficult to separate from the greater amberjack, but it does have a deeper body for its length than the greater amberjack. The diagonal dark bar through the eye may stop short of the dorsal fin. It extends to the dorsal fin in the greater amberjack. The lesser amberjack occurs in the Eastern and Western Atlantic Oceans. In the Atlantic, it is found from Massachusetts to Brazil. Lesser amberjacks off the Louisiana coast are more abundant than in other Gulf coast waters, possibly due to the fact that they don't have as much fishing pressure here as in other places that have commercialized them. Another drawing factor might be the structural habitat that the many oil platforms provide for the species Lesser amberjacks don't usually venture into water less than 100 feet in depth and the largest ones stay exclusively in deeper water, sometimes over 600 feet. The maximum reported size is 27 inches in Florida. The lesser amberjack feeds on squids and fishes.


Florida pompano fish found off the coast of FloridaFlorida Pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) Pompano are deep-bodied fish, grayish, blue on the back shading to silver on the side with yellow beneath. There is a bluish tint above and in front of the eyes. The side of the tail and caudal peduncle is smooth in contrast to the similar-looking jack crevalle. The average size is two to five pounds. Pompano range from inshore waters to offshore throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Pompano are common along Gulf beaches and passes where they feed on beach fleas, shrimp, small fish and animals buried in the sand. In September and October, adults move into the bays. These deep-bodied fish flash their silver sides and yellow bodies when they jump in the wake of boats in the coastal bays. Many consider the pompano to be the most delicious of all Gulf fish, particularly broiled with butter.

palometa fish found off the coast of FloridaPalometa (Caranx hippos) The palometa fish is most common in south Florida. This fish can be found in clear water along sandy beaches and bays, and is occasionally found over reefs. The palometa is grayish-blue-green on top of it's head and along the back, with bright silvery sides and yellow on it's breast. The palometa is rarely over 1 pound, but has been reported as large as three pounds. This fish is thought to spawn offshore in spring, summer, and fall. The palometa readily strikes small artificial lures.

permit fish often caught off the coast of FloridaPermit (Trachinotus falcatus) Permit inhabit the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to southeastern Brazil. They occur throughout the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico, and less-frequently in Bermuda. The species has been reported in the eastern Atlantic, but does not regularly occur there. The species is most abundant in southern Florida. Permit primarily occupy inshore regions such as flats and sandy beaches, and deeper cuts, channels, and holes adjacent to these areas. The substrate of the flats may vary from sand, mud, marl, or sea grass. Permit often swim in water depths less than 2 feet. The deeply forked tail and elongated anterior dorsal fin provide the more distinct characteristics of the permit. Looking like long sickles, these fins impart the fish's species name falcatus. However, one can also identify the permit by its highly laterally compressed body, making the fish appear thin and tall. Permit have bright silver sides and bluish-green or brown backs.  Like the bonefish, the permit uses its hard mouth to dig into the benthos and root up its prey. These food items usually consist of crustaceans and mollusks, which the permit crushes with its granular teeth and pharyngeal bony plates. However, as opportunistic feeders, permit will eat a variety of animals, including amphipods, copepods, mollusks, polychaetes, fish and insects.
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