Key West Blue Striped Grunt

People who experience a Key West snorkel are often fortunate enough to spot many beautiful fish in their surroundings. If you spend a day enjoying classic Key West snorkeling, you might even be able to see majestic bluestriped grunts (Haemulon sciurus).

Bluestriped grunts are bony fish that have yellow bodies and heads. Their heads and bodies feature prominent thin horizontal blue streaks. They also have blue stripes right below their eyes. These stripes possess conspicuous arches. The inside portions of their mouths are memorable as they're vivid orange in coloration. They possess black caudal fins. Because of that, distinguishing them from French grunts (Haemulon flavolineatum) is usually an easy task. They're bigger than French grunts, as well.

Adult bluestriped grunts reach lengths of anywhere between 8 and 14 inches. Some of them can reach weights of a maximum of 1.7 pounds. These grunts generally attain maturity when they're between two and three years in age. Their life spans are usually approximately 10 years, too.

Bluestriped grunts reside in the western portion of the Atlantic Ocean. They're frequently seen in areas by Brazil and Florida. Bluestriped grunts are common both in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. These grunts generally make their homes in seagrass beds, reefs and mangroves. They're sometimes seen as deep down as 98.5 feet. Bluestriped grunts often spend time in tiny units by rocky and coral reef. Youngsters of the species are often seen in turtle grass beds of insignificant depths.

The diet of bluestriped grunts is made up of bivalve mollusks and crustaceans. While these grunts largely feed on those two types of foods, they also sometimes consume tiny fishes. Oddly enough, bluestriped grunts are notorious for stealing eggs from damselfish.

Most of their spawning takes place between the months of January and April each year. The Caribbean Sea is the spawning locale for this species. Juvenile bluestriped grunts make their homes in seagrass beds. When they do so, they're usually anywhere between 9mm and 17mm long. Once youngsters are born, they grow swiftly. They typically add an impressive 0.50mm to their body lengths each day.

True to their monikers, bluestriped grunts give off conspicuous grunting noises. These noises are sometimes compared to those made by pigs. Bluestriped grunts make these sounds when they eat. They also make them when they're frightened, sometimes due to being trapped by humans. Bluestriped grunts use their sophisticated pharyngeal teeth to make these noises. Their pharyngeal teeth are in their throats. Just like snappers, bluestriped grunts are devoid of canines. The teeth in their jaws is on the feeble side, too. The aforementioned French grunts make grunting noises that are highly similar to those of bluestriped grunts.

Bluestriped grunts gather together in schools that are small to moderate in size. These schools typically are close to reefs and drop-offs. These areas serve as structural defense for bluestriped grunts.

If you pay attention while snorkeling in vibrant Key West, you just might get the chance to see magnificent bluestriped grunts up close.