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Unique Characters: Color varies with habitat. Usually dusky orange to dusky reddish, but may be greenish. All with iridescent reflections. May be uniformly colored or may display faint bars or mottling on sides. May have a dusky spot on lower soft dorsal-fin base. Outer teeth canine-like (Kells and Carpenter 2011). Scales present on the operculum (Manooch 1984).
Similar Species: Tautog Tautoga onitis. Color varies with habitat. Shades of brownish green, grayish green to blackish brown. Females and smaller specimens mottled and blotched with irregular bars. Large males somewhat uniformly colored dorsally and on sides, pale below, with a pale blotch on each side (Kells and Carpenter 2011). High dorsal fin profile, blunt snout, thick lips, and high-set eyes. Scales absent on the operculum. Chocolate brown to greenish-black above with irregular black blotches or bars on the side (Manooch 1984).
References: Manooch, C.S. 1984. Fisherman’s guide. Fishes of the Southeastern United States. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History. Raleigh, NC. 362pp.