porgy (pôrˈgē) [key], common name for members of the Sparidae, a family of small-mouthed fishes with strong teeth adapted for crushing their food of shellfish and crustaceans. Porgies are found in warm and tropical coastal areas and are especially abundant in the Mediterranean and Red seas and in the West Indies. Best known of the North American species is the migratory porgy, Pagrus pagrus, found from the Carolinas to Cape Cod and called scup in New England, porgy in New York, and fair maid in the South. It is an excellent food fish. Common S of Chesapeake Bay is the sheepshead porgy. The jolthead porgy, named for its habit of butting shellfish loose from rocks and pilings, is the largest (up to 10 lb/4.5 kg) of the family. Of commercial importance in the area of the Gulf of Mexico is the pinfish (6–10 in./15–25 cm). In Europe the name porgy generally refers to the red porgy or sea bream, a red fish with blue spots common in Mediterranean and European Atlantic waters. Porgies are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, family Sparidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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