DEEP­WA­TER DEL­I­CACY

Sport Fishing - - FISH FACTS -

While deep-drop­ping in about 1,000 feet of wa­ter off Ex­uma, Ba­hamas, we caught pomfret on two suc­ces­sive drops. Both times they came off the bot­tom eas­ily, but about mid­way up, there was vi­o­lent ac­tion on the rod as if it had been hit by a shark. It was the pomfret mak­ing its last run — strong! They came up dead. We thought this might be a sickle pomfret. Can you iden­tify the species? Tim Thomp­son Via email

Based on color, body shape and the rel­a­tive sizes of the fish’s fins, your catch is a trop­i­cal pomfret, Eumegis­tus brevorti, one of nine pomfret species known to oc­cur in the western cen­tral At­lantic. You asked if it might be a sickle pomfret (Tar­ac­tichthys stein­dachneri), but that species in­hab­its the Indo-Pa­cific and east­ern trop­i­cal Pa­cific re­gions and has never been re­ported from the At­lantic. The anal fin of the sickle pomfret is con­sid­er­ably longer than that of com­pa­ra­bly sized trop­i­cal pomfret, but both species share a white pos­te­rior mar­gin on their cau­dal fins. The trop­i­cal pomfret is found through­out

the western cen­tral At­lantic from Florida through Brazil, in­clud­ing the Gulf of Mex­ico and Caribbean Sea. It has been re­ported to grow to a length of 2 feet, sug­gest­ing you caught a cou­ple of par­tic­u­larly large in­di­vid­u­als. This pomfret in­hab­its depths be­tween ap­prox­i­mately 1,250 and 4,350 feet, so your catches were shal­low for the species. Trop­i­cal pomfret are oc­ca­sion­ally found in fish mar­kets, where they com­mand a high price. In­tel from re­li­able sources sug­gests that a high price is jus­ti­fied for this fine-eat­ing fish. —Ray Wald­ner

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