Bar jack. Courtesy of Robert A. Patzner, University of Salzburg, Austria.
The bar jack ranges from New Jersey through the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico but is uncommon in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Although inhabiting temperate waters of the western Atlantic, this species is most abundant in clear tropical waters and is the most common member of the genus in the West Indies and Bahamas. It is typically associated with coral reefs or Sargassum and occurs in schools of various sizes. Both males and females mature by 3-4 years. The spawning season occurs throughout most of the year but several authors report peak spawning during the spring and summer months.This species has been reported to produce high pitched grunts as a fright response when captured and handled. These sounds are produced by grinding of teeth and use of the swim bladder – sonic muscle mechanism. Sound production associated with courtship and spawning has not been documented for this species.