The properly is subangular with the serrations at its angle being slightly enlarged and the upper edge of the gill cover is straight. The They are dark reddish brown on the upper part of the head and body, shading to paler pink on the underparts, they are marked with lighter spots and blotches across their body and there are darker margins to the fins.
This species has a maximum published total length of 125 centimeters (49 in), although they a more commonly found at lengths around 50 centimeters (20 in), and a maximum published weight of 23 kilograms (51 lb). The redgrouper's typical range is coastal areas in the western Atlantic, stretching from southern Brazil to North Carolina in the US and including the Gulf of Mexico and Bermuda.
Spawning occurs offshore between January and June, peaking in May. While primarily eating benthic invertebrates, the red grouper is an opportunistic feeder in the reef community.
The diet commonly includes mantid and portend crabs, juvenile spiny lobster, and snapping shrimp, with the occasional fish. The red grouper is of moderate size, about 125 cm and weighs 23 kg or more.
When aggravated (they are highly territorial) or involved in spawning activities, these fish can very rapidly change coloration patterns, with the head or other parts of the body turning completely white, and the white spots appearing more intense. Red grouper (Epimetheus Mario) on an excavated site on Pulley Ridges on the West Florida Shelf Red grouper actively excavate pits in the seafloor.
They start digging in the sediment from the time they settle out of the plankton and continue throughout their lifetime. They use their caudal fin and their mouths to remove debris and sediment from rocks, creating exposed surfaces on which sessile organisms actively settle (e.g., sponges, soft corals, algae).
The exposure of structure also attracts a myriad of other species, including mobile invertebrates and a remarkable diversity of other fishes, from bodies and butterfly fish to grunts and snapper. The lionfish Steroid Holsteins started invading red grouper habitat by 2008, from Florida Bay to the Florida Keys and offshore to Pulley Ridge, a despotic coral reef on the West Florida Shelf west of the Dry Tortugas.
Known for being extremely capable predators on small reef fish, scientists are very interested in determining the extent to which their invasion changes the functional dynamics of associated communities. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Epimetheus Mario.
Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. “Helming parasites of Epimetheus Mario (Pisces: Serranidae) of the Yucatán Peninsula, southeastern Mexico” (PDF).
^ Scholar, W. N.; Cricket, R. & van der Loan, R. Although some populations are below target levels, U.S. wild-caught red grouper is still a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Large sharks and carnivorous marine mammals prey on adult red grouper. Red grouper are found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts through the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil.
Both the commercial and recreational fisheries have size limits to reduce harvest of immature red grouper. The commercial and recreational fishing seasons are closed from January through April to protect red grouper during their peak spawning period.
Minimum size limits protect immature red grouper. Year-round and/or seasonal area closures for commercial and recreational sectors to protect spawning groupers.
Red grouper is available year-round with peak catches in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico occurring during the summer and fall. Red grouper flesh is white and lean with a notable lack of bones, and is very forgiving when cooked as it remains moist, firm, and has large flakes.
Red grouper is considered the best tasting grouper with a distinct shellfish finish due to its diet. Red grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning they all begin life as a female and eventually some may transform into males.
Red grouper have large mouths with a slight under-bite, which allows them to eat their prey whole by dilating their gill covers and rapidly inhaling. Species Habitat Red grouper are found in the western Atlantic Ocean with ranges extending from Massachusetts through the Gulf of Mexico and south to Brazil.
Red grouper act as “marine engineers” in their ecosystem by hollowing out flat-bottomed areas to create their home and attract mates. This process provides habitat to other species such as spiny lobster, black grouper, red porgy, and vermilion snapper.
Allocates an annual catch limit between commercial (76 percent) and recreational (24 percent) fishers Restricts certain gear types to reduce by catch Sets minimum size restrictions to protect immature red grouper Establishes year round and seasonal area closures for both commercial and recreational fishers to protect spawning stock and essential fish habitat The If program allocates shares of the total commercial catch limit amongst individual fishers.
Under the program, each fisher owns a share of the quota and can choose to fish it at anytime during the open season. Strict commercial reporting requirements prevent fishers from harvesting more than their individual allocation.
The Reef Fish FMP has been a success in allowing red grouper populations to bounce back from overfishing that had occurred on and off in the Gulf since the 1970s. They are fairly long-lived and come together to spawn in large numbers, characteristics that make them vulnerable to fishing pressure.
The Gulf of Mexico population in the was declared overfished in 2000 and then was rebuilt to target levels in 2007, according to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. The South Atlantic stock is no longer overfished, but a 2010 assessment showed it hasn’t been fully rebuilt.
Grouper fisheries have high impacts on nontarget species, the Monterey Bay Aquarium reported. Venting tools are also employed to make it easier for reef fish to survive when released.
In the United States, red grouper management measures include permits, annual catch limits, fishing quotas, marine protected areas that are closed to fishing, seasonal closures, gear restrictions, minimum size limits, and data reporting requirements. The majority of media and political attention is focused on red snapper, but there are several other reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico that are of commercial and recreational importance.
Fishermen are putting our heads together to independently address this issue instead of waiting for politics and management to catch up. Thanks to successful management under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, red snapper populations are rebounding and their range is expanding.
Throwing fish overboard is not something a fisherman wants to do, especially for a species whose stock is still rebuilding. On a regional level, any time the commercial sector does not land its quota, political pressures begin to ramp up from radical recreational fishing lobbying groups who push for reallocating commercial fishing quota and gifting it to recreational fishermen.
Why would these radical groups push for more lax management and reallocation when even recreational fishermen in the Gulf could only catch 35% of their quota in 2017? Solving the problem of a declining of red grouper population is not going to be an easy task, but I have confidence that our collaboration between industry, scientists, and managers, together with the best-available science mandated by Magnuson-Stevens, can successfully recover the red grouper fishery.
Paul Lough ridge is a commercial fisherman and owner of four boats out of Crystal River, Florida. He’s been fishing for over 25 years, starting with grouper and snapper, then expanding into stone crab.