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Epinephelus malabaricus.jpg
Malabar grouper, Epinephelus malabaricus
Scientific classification

Groupers are fish of any of a number of genera in the subfamily Epinephelinae of the family Serranidae, in the order Perciformes.

Not all serranids are called 'groupers'; the family also includes the sea basses. The common name 'grouper' is usually given to fish in one of two large genera: Epinephelus and Mycteroperca. In addition, the species classified in the small genera Anyperidon, Cromileptes, Dermatolepis, Gracila, Saloptia, and Triso are also called 'groupers'. Fish in the genus Plectropomus are referred to as 'coralgroupers'. These genera are all classified in the subfamily Epiphelinae. However, some of the hamlets (genus Alphestes), the hinds (genus Cephalopholis), the lyretails (genus Variola) and some other small genera (Gonioplectrus, Niphon, Paranthias) are also in this subfamily, and occasional species in other serranid genera have common names involving the word "grouper". Nonetheless, the word "grouper" on its own is usually taken as meaning the subfamily Epinephelinae.

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  • ✪ Goliath Grouper | JONATHAN BIRD'S BLUE WORLD
  • ✪ Finding the Giant Goliath Grouper | What Sam Sees


Today on Jonathan Bird's Blue World, Jonathan goes on a search for the world's largest grouper! Hi, I'm Jonathan Bird and welcome to my world! ( ♪ music ) Goliath Groupers! They're among the largest reef fish in the world. They used to be common throughout the Caribbean, but then their numbers started to plummet in the 1980s. That's because everybody wants to catch an 800-pound fish, so pretty soon the Goliath Grouper had been fished almost to extinction. In 1990, the U.S. Government had to take drastic measures to protect this fish, so they passed a law that banned all fishing of Goliath Groupers. Now, nineteen years later, they're making a remarkable comeback. The Goliath Grouper is still very rare. In fact, most divers have never even seen one. David Doubilet, the world-famous National Geographic Magazine photographer, has invited me to join him and his wife Jen Hayes (who is also his photo assistant) on a Goliath Grouper filming expedition. How could I turn down an invitation like that? So I head down to beautiful West Palm Beach in September on a mission to see one of these magnificent fish in person. We board the Shearwater, a large dive boat that will be our base of operations for a week. I'm really excited as we pull away from the dock. Captain Jim Abernethy is taking us to a shipwreck where the groupers are known to hide. It's not far from the sprawling coastline of West Palm Beach. Since it's only a ten minute ride to the first shipwreck where we will be looking for Goliath Groupers, I get right to work putting my gear together. This is great. We're going to find some Goliath Groupers. Maybe they'll be bigger than me - which isn't really that hard, actually. We've arrived at the wreck of the Mizpah, which sits on the sea floor 80 feet below. The question is: are there any Goliath Groupers down there? Let's go find out! After I get in, David and Jen follow with their still cameras. My cameraman Pierre and I start descending to the wreck. Once we hit the bottom, Pierre and I will stay out of David and Jen's way. We are greeted by a very strong current. I can barely hold my place in the sand. We struggle to make our way to the wreck where the Goliath Groupers like to hang out. Shipwrecks are magnets for fish. That's because they provide a great place for fish to hide and rest on what might otherwise be a very flat, featureless sea floor. The shipwrecks off the east coast of Florida have become some of the best places to find Goliath Groupers. But a typical shipwreck only has one or two of them hanging around. Things are different here in September. That's when the Goliath Groupers get together in large numbers to spawn. We are thrilled to find some big Goliath Groupers. David is getting up close and personal with some big fish! And it looks like he's getting some good pictures too! The groupers don't like the current much either, so they hide behind the wreck the same way one might hide behind a large object to get out of the wind. An even better place to hide is inside the wreck. I make my way over to a doorway to have a peek into the dark interior. I'm can see a couple Goliath Groupers in there. I swim inside to see if I can get some closer shots. They tolerate my presence until I get a little too close, then they swim away, spooked by a diver in such close quarters with them. But outside, they let me get really close. These Groupers are surrounded by little silvery fish called cigar minnows. The minnows might look like they are hiding out of the current, but they are really aggregating close to the groupers. What could they be up to? The Goliath Groupers look like they are just hanging out, but they are waiting for something, just like the cigar minnows. Later, when the current relaxes, dozens of groupers are gathering together in the water column above the wreck. What's going on? It's the mating season, and these fish are preparing to spawn—probably at dusk or after sunset. Unfortunately, I'm low on air and I need to head back to the surface. Pierre and I do a safety stop on the anchor line as we eagerly anticipate the next dive. That is incredible! Those fish are so huge - they're like the size of refrigerators! Unbelievable! As the massive fish gather into groups for their evening spawning, I'm up above getting ready. I hope I don't miss anything! These fish only spawn once a year, in September, during the full moon, at dusk. And they only do it for maybe one or two nights. We know they spawned last night so this might be my last chance to film this. So, as the sun gets low in the sky, Pierre and I jump back in the water. We head back down to the wreck. The Goliath Groupers are all around the wreck in abundance. These groupers are so large that they don't need to worry about too many predators. With almost no current now, they head away from the protection of the wreck into open water. Clouds of cigar minnows stick to the groupers like glue, eagerly anticipating millions of delicious eggs that the groupers will release when they spawn. The medium sized fish called jacks make runs at the cigar minnows to see if they can catch a meal. David is caught up in the action, photographing the cigar minnows surrounding the groupers. I keep looking for any kind of mating activity, but something totally unexpected catches my eye. It's a manta ray swimming among the groupers! I move in for a shot of the ray. It doesn't seem afraid of me. And I have to believe it's no coincidence that a manta has shown up here. Mantas are filter feeders and this one is probably hoping to join the cigar minnows and feed on some grouper eggs. The manta seems intrigued by our video lights and she keeps coming over to me. So I put my camera down and give her a little belly rub. And then the manta swings around and says Hi to Pierre! What a thrill for both of us! Any dive with a manta ray and fish the size of refrigerators is definitely a good day at the office! Mantas are awesome but I need to keep my attention and my camera focused on the big groupers so I don't miss anything. The cigar minnows are crowding in even tighter to the Groupers. You can hardly even tell there's a big fish in the middle of all that! It's an amazing spectacle to observe. These enormous fish would make Michael Jordan feel small. And the cigar minnows are just magical to watch. We see a lot of what looks like courting, but no spawning. Maybe the groupers are more bothered by our presence than they let on. Or maybe they are waiting until dark. But as it gets later and later, we are running out of light, and air. Reluctantly, Pierre and I must head back to the surface. It looks like the spawning will happen later in the evening and I'll miss it. Back aboard the boat, David and Jen are looking at their shots. JEN: See that? That is really nice! Even though we didn't see the actual spawning, the dive was still well worth the effort. That was an incredible experience. Those fish are just majestic, covered with all those beautiful fish. We didn't actually see the spawning event - not sure if maybe they're doing it now - but we finally had to come up. We ran out of time and it was really dark, but – unbelievable - that was something that I will never forget. The Goliath Grouper is a spectacular example of successful marine conservation. This vulnerable fish was pushed to the very brink of extinction, but was saved at the last minute by laws to protect them. In less than 20 years, they have made a strong comeback. And although their population has not yet fully recovered, they are well on the way. ( ♪ music )



Anatomy of a grouper
Anatomy of a grouper

Groupers are Teleosts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They are not built for long-distance, fast swimming. They can be quite large, and lengths over a meter and weights up to 100 kg are not uncommon,[citation needed] though obviously in such a large group, species vary considerably. They swallow prey rather than biting pieces off it. They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopuses, and crustaceans. Some species prefer to ambush their prey, while other species are active predators. Reports of fatal attacks on humans by the largest species, the giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) are unconfirmed.[1]

Their mouths and gills form a powerful sucking system that sucks their prey in from a distance. They also use their mouths to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills.

Research indicates roving coralgroupers (Plectropomus pessuliferus) sometimes cooperate with giant morays in hunting.[2]



The word "grouper" is from the Portuguese name, garoupa, which has been speculated to come from an indigenous South American language.[3][4]

In Australia, "groper" is used instead of "grouper" for several species, such as the Queensland grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus). In the Philippines, it is named lapu-lapu in Luzon, while in the Visayas and Mindanao it goes by the name pugapo.[citation needed] In New Zealand, "groper" refers to a type of wreckfish, Polyprion oxygeneios, which goes by the Māori name hāpuku.[5] In the Middle East, the fish is known as 'hammour', and is widely eaten, especially in the Persian Gulf region.[6][7]


Image Genus Common Name Number of Living Species
Alphestes immaculatus SI.jpg
Alphestes 3
Anyperodon leucogrammicus.jpg
Anyperodon slender grouper 1
Aethaloperca rogaa Maldives.JPG
Aethaloperca Redmouth grouper 1
Cephalopholis Hinds 25
Cromileptes altivelis skansen 2006.jpg
Cromileptes Humpback grouper 1
Sanc0498 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg
Dermatolepis 2
Epinephelus malabaricus in UShaka Sea World 1098.jpg
Epinephelus 89
Gonioplectrus Spanish flag 1
Serranidae - Gracila albomarginata.JPG
Gracila Masked Grouper 1
Snowy grouper (Epinephelus niveatus).jpg
Hyporthodus 14
Sanc0487 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library.jpg
Mycteroperca 15
Paranthias colonus Ecuador.jpg
Paranthias 2
Plectropomus laevis.jpg
Plectropomus 7
Saloptia 1
Triso 1
Variola louti by Jacek Madejski.jpg
Variola 2


Groupers are mostly monandric protogynous hermaphrodites, i.e. they mature only as females and have the ability to change sex after sexual maturity.[8][9] Some species of groupers grow about a kilogram per year and are generally adolescent until they reach three kilograms, when they become female. The largest males often control harems containing three to 15 females.[8][10] Groupers often pair spawn, which enables large males to competitively exclude smaller males from reproducing.[8][11][12][13] As such, if a small female grouper were to change sex before it could control a harem as a male, its fitness would decrease.[11][12][13] If no male is available, the largest female that can increase fitness by changing sex will do so.[12]

However, some groupers are gonochoristic.[8] Gonochorism, or a reproductive strategy with two distinct sexes, has evolved independently in groupers at least five times.[8] The evolution of gonochorism is linked to group spawning high amounts of habitat cover.[8][12][14] Both group spawning and habitat cover increase the likelihood of a smaller male to reproduce in the presence of large males. Fitness of male groupers in environments where competitive exclusion of smaller males is not possible is correlated with sperm production and thus testicle size.[10][12][15] Gonochoristic groupers have larger testes than protogynous groupers (10% of body mass compared to 1% of body mass), indicating the evolution of gonochorism increased male grouper fitness in environments where large males were unable to competitively exclude small males from reproducing.[10]


A monogenean parasitic on the gill of a grouper
A monogenean parasitic on the gill of a grouper

As other fish, groupers harbour parasites, including digeneans,[16] nematodes, cestodes, monogeneans, isopods, and copepods. A study conducted in New Caledonia has shown that coral reef-associated groupers have about 10 species of parasites per fish species.[17] Species of Pseudorhabdosynochus, monogeneans of the family Diplectanidae are typical of and especially numerous on groupers.

Modern use

Gulai kerapu, a grouper-based Padang food
Gulai kerapu, a grouper-based Padang food

Many groupers are important food fish, and some of them are now farmed. Unlike most other fish species which are chilled or frozen, groupers are usually sold live in markets.[18] Many species are popular fish for sea-angling. Some species are small enough to be kept in aquaria, though even the small species are inclined to grow rapidly.[citation needed]

Groupers are commonly reported as a source of Ciguatera fish poisoning. DNA barcoding of grouper species might help in controlling Ciguatera fish poisoning since fish are easily identified, even from meal remnants, with molecular tools.[19]


Malaysian newspaper The Star reported a 180 kg (400 lb) grouper being caught off the waters near Pulau Sembilan in the Strait of Malacca in January 2008.[20] Shenzhen News in China reported that a 1.8 m (5.9 ft) grouper swallowed a 1.0 m (3.3 ft) whitetip reef shark at the Fuzhou Sea World aquarium.[21]

In September 2010, a Costa Rican newspaper reported a 2.3 m (7.5 ft) grouper in Cieneguita, Limón. The weight of the fish was 250 kg (550 lb) and it was lured using one kilogram of bait.[22] In November 2013, a 310 kg (680 lb) grouper had been caught and sold to a hotel in Dongyuan, China.[23]

In August 2014, off Bonita Springs in Florida (USA), a big grouper took in one gulp a 4-foot shark which an angler had caught.[24][25]

Cultural references

See also


  1. ^ Lieske, E.; Myers, R. (1999). Coral Reef Fishes (2 ed.). ISBN 0-691-02659-9.
  2. ^ "Interspecific Communicative and Coordinated Hunting between Groupers and Giant Moray Eels in the Red Sea". Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  3. ^ "s.v. (?)". Oxford English Dictionary.
  4. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Coastal fish - Hāpuku - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand". 2 March 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  6. ^ "Food and Drink – Local Dishes". UAE Interact. Archived from the original on 5 July 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  7. ^ Carrington, Daisy (19 January 2009). "Handling hammour". Time Out Abu Dhabi. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Erisman, B. E., M. T. Craig and P. A. Hastings. 2009. A phylogenetic test of the size-advantage model: Evolutionary changes in mating behavior influence the loss of sex change in a fish lineage. American Naturalist 174:83-99.
  9. ^ DeMartini, E. E., A. R. Everson and R. S. Nichols. 2011. Estimates of body sizes at maturation and at sex change, and the spawning seasonality and sex ratio of the endemic Hawaiian grouper (Hyporthodus quernus, f. Epinephelidae). Fishery Bulletin 109:123-134.
  10. ^ a b c Sadovy, Y. and P. L. Colin. 1995. Sexual development and sexuality in the nassau grouper. Journal of Fish Biology 46:961-976.
  11. ^ a b Allsop, D. J. and S. A. West. 2003. Constant relative age and size at sex change for sequentially hermaphroditic fish. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 16:921-929.
  12. ^ a b c d e Munoz, R. C. and R. R. Warner. 2003. A new version of the size-advantage hypothesis for sex change: Incorporating sperm competition and size-fecundity skew. American Naturalist 161:749-761.
  13. ^ a b Kuwamura, T. 2004. Sex change in fishes: Its process and evolutionary mechanism. Zoological Science 21:1248-1248.
  14. ^ Erisman, B. E., J. A. Rosales-Casian and P. A. Hastings. 2008. Evidence of gonochorism in a grouper, Mycteroperca rosacea, from the Gulf of California, Mexico. Environmental Biology of Fishes 82:23-33.
  15. ^ Molloy, P. P., N. B. Goodwin, I. M. Cote, J. D. Reynolds and M. J. G. Gage. 2007. Sperm competition and sex change: A comparative analysis across fishes. Evolution 61:640-652.
  16. ^ Cribb, T. H., Bray, R. A., Wright, T. & Pichelin, S. 2002: The trematodes of groupers (Serranidae: Epinephelinae): knowledge, nature and evolution. Parasitology, 124, S23-S42.
  17. ^ Justine, J.-L., Beveridge, I., Boxshall, G. A., Bray, R. A., Moravec, F., Trilles, J.-P. & Whittington, I. D. 2010: An annotated list of parasites (Isopoda, Copepoda, Monogenea, Digenea, Cestoda and Nematoda) collected in groupers (Serranidae, Epinephelinae) in New Caledonia emphasizes parasite biodiversity in coral reef fish. Folia Parasitologica, 57, 237-262. doi:10.14411/fp.2010.032 PDF
  18. ^ "Most consumers prefer to purchase live groupers in fish markets". Retrieved 29 April 2011.
  19. ^ Schoelinck, C., Hinsinger, D. D., Dettaï, A., Cruaud, C. & Justine, J.-L. 2014: A phylogenetic re-analysis of groupers with applications for ciguatera fish poisoning. PLoS ONE, 9, e98198. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098198
  20. ^ "Whopper of a grouper bought for RM10,000". 17 January 2008. Archived from the original on 8 May 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  21. ^ "海底"血案":巨型石斑鱼一口吞下白鳍鲨". 30 March 2006. Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  22. ^ Diario La Extra 2010, Marvin Carvajal. "Cayó el más mero en el Caribe". Archived from the original on 13 September 2010.
  23. ^ "Photos: Fishermen catch wildly huge 686-pound fish, sell it to hotel".
  24. ^ Heather Alexander, Houston Chronicle (21 August 2014). "Gulf grouper swallows 4 foot shark in a single bite". Houston Chronicle.
  25. ^ Grouper eats 4ft shark in one bite. 19 August 2014 – via YouTube.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 February 2020, at 11:26
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