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Color and Markings

spots, bars, line, lateral and dark

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There is considerable variation in the body-color and markings of this big barracuda. In life, specimen No. 11 was on the upper surface a rich dark green, the sides silvery, the belly chalky-white. In the mid-lateral region the green sent down bars into the silvery region, which in turn sent white bars up into the green, the two forming an interlocking or dove-tailing, as shown in the diagrammatic figure (text-figure 3 A). Unfortunately, the number of these bars was not counted. Specimen No. 10 (3 feet 10 inches long), shortly after being killed, was dorsally black with an iridescent metallic blue in some lights; it had some blue on the sides, lower down was silvery, and the ventral parts were a chalky-white.

Evermann and Marsh (1900) speak of "dark longitudinal streaks along rows of scales above lateral line." This was confirmed on one fish only. Of No. 1, my notes say, "faint dark longitudinal stripes or streaks above lateral line." This was my smallest specimen, 2 feet 1.5 inches in extreme length. The largest Porto Rican specimen was 16 inches long. It seems probable that this is a juvenile marking which disappears with age.' Reference has already been made to the bars found just above the lateral line on each side of fish No. 11. On fish No. 1, lying wholly above the lateral line and crossing the horizontal streaks at a large acute angle forward, were 18 or 20 dark bars as shown in text-figure 3 B. No. 5 had 18 bars, as noted for No. 1, but no longitudinal streaks were visible. No. 7 had about 18 similar bars, as did No. 8. No. 9 had about 20. No. 10 had 17 on the right side and 18 on the left. No. 11 has already been referred to, and the last and longest specimen either had no such bars or I failed to note them. In the case of No. 6 these notes explicitly state that the bars were lacking. In addition to these bars or oblong more or less rectangular blotches found on the body forward of the dorsal-anal fin region, there were generally present on the lateral hinder parts certain interesting spots to which attention will now be called.

No. 4 had on the hinder half of the right side of the body 15 large black spots, some faint, and some apparently of two run together; but on the left 9 spots only. No. 9, in addition to the 20 black bars

above the lateral line on each side, had below the lateral line 23 black spots, some faint and some apparently double. On the left side there were 18. All were mainly behind the anterior margin of the second dorsal. No. 10 had 18 black spots on the right and 14 on the left side. These were below the lateral line and extended from a point just anterior to the anal back to the caudal peduncle and on this some were found above the lateral line also.

No. 12 had on the right side about 15 spots; some large, some small: some distinct, some faint. On the left side there were 2 large spots about amidships, and behind these about 6 small indistinct spots. Furthermore, interesting to note, there were on the ventral surface of the body, on the median line, between the anal and caudal fins, quite a number of dark spots. These were not noticed on any other fish.

Evermann and Marsh (1900) speak of "usually from one to several small, very dark brown spots, sometimes black, scattered irregularly on the side." They also say that the young have dark irregularly shaped blotches or bars sometimes disappearing with age. However, from a study of my specimens described above it would seem that this conclusion does not apply to the Tortugas form. Further it is inter esting to note that No. 2 (2 feet 4 inches in extreme length) had but 4 spots on the right and 3 on the left side, some of these being very pale. Then again No. 6 (3 feet 1.5 inches outside measurements) had no spots at all. This may have been S. guachancho, which is described as being devoid of any color markings whatever, lacking "regular bars and scattered spots." In this connection it is of interest to note that Temminck and Schlegel (1850) in writing of Japanese barracudas say that the young of S. vulgaris have the upper parts covered with brown ish markings and that on the lateral line there is often found a range of dark spots, oblong and rather closely crowded.

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