The Black Grouper fish identification, habitats, characteristics, Fishing methods
The largest of our Mycteroperca groupers, the Black groupers can reach up to 52 inches (133 cm) in length and can weigh up to 180 pounds (80 kg). Most of the black grouper that are caught average a little over 2 feet in length (70 cm). They can live over 30 years, but most of the growth occurs during the first ten years of life. Overall color is dark gray. Markings are blacker than those of the Gag, and form box-like patterns. Fins are black; their edges also black or deep blue.
Black grouper, Mycteroperca bonaci, also known as black rockfish, rockfish, and marbled rockfish, Bonaci Arara Aguaji, abade bonaci and bonaci gato in Mexico, aguaji and bonaci arrara in Cuba, bonaci arara in UK, badejo-ferro, badejo-preto, badejo-quadrado in Brazil, is a marine fish, common in South Florida, the Keys and the Bahamas, is found throughout the western Atlantic Ocean, from Massachusetts to Bermuda and to southern Brazil. It is also present in Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, including the Florida Keys and Cuba.
The black grouper is a large hearty fish with a protruding lower jaw. It has an oblonged body shape and rounded margins on the dorsal and anal fins. Body depth is distinctly less than head length, contained 3.3 to 3.5 times in fish length, head length contained 2.5 to 2.8 times in fish length. There is no median fin rays exserted. The caudal fin is squared-off, truncate (convex if widely spread) to slightly emarginated. The preopercule is evenly rounded without the presence of a notch or projecting bony lobe at angle, which distinguishes it from the gag grouper. The front teeth of the black grouper are well-developed canine teeth. Groupers have several sets of strong, slender teeth that act as raspers. These teeth are used to prevent small fish from escaping. Developed gill rakers on first arch are 19 to 27, 2 to 5 on upper limb, 8 to 12 on lower limb (including 2 or 3 rudiments on each limb).
Dorsal fin has 11 spines and 15 to 17 soft rays.
The membrane distinctly notched between spines.
Anal fin has 3 spines and 11 to 13 soft rays.
Pectoral fins have 16 to 17 rays.
Lateral-line scales 78 to 83.
Lateral scale series 119 to 126.
Maximum total length is 52 in (133 cm)
Maximum weight at 179 pounds (81 kg).
Gill rakers on first arch are 19 to 27.
(2 to 5 on upper limb, 8 to 12 on lower limb).
The black grouper has head and body coloration olive to gray or dark brown along with 7 or 8 columns of rectangular dark blotches and small hexagonal bronze or brassy spots on its head and lower side separated by a bluish white reticulum (some brassy spots join to form chain-like horizontal streaks). The borders of the soft dorsal, anal, and caudal fin are black or bluish with dark margin. Pectoral fins are dusky brown, gradually becoming orange at the edge.
Black groupers are commonly found around the edges of coral reefs, from about 30 feet of water out to the deepest dropoffs, on rocky bottoms and in coral reef environments. Big fish may roam to much shallower patch reefs, especially in cooler seasons. Their depth ranges from 10 to 100 m, commonly at 19 to 108 feet (6 to 33 meters). Juvenile black groupers are also found in seagrass beds, in mangrove areas, may also frequent creeks, especially in the Bahamas.
Adult black grouper feed primarily on other smaller reef fishes, including grunts, snapper, and herrings. They also feed on crustaceans. Juvenile black groupers feed solely on crustaceans.
Black grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites. This means that all of the fish are born as females. Later in life, some of the fish will change from male to female so the population can reproduce. Black groupers males became mature when they reach about 39 - 50 inches (96 - 116 cm), females about 50 – 100 cm. They spawn from November through May, but also spawning occurs on the Campeche Bank in July and August.
Black groupers are commonly landed in commercial grouper fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic Ocean, West Indies, and east coast of Venezuela. They are also very common in the recreational fishery. The meat generates a fairly high price and is considered very good quality. They could be caught with hook-and-line and in traps using Drifting, Still Fishing or Trolling and considered best sporting game quality of the Groupers. For drifting or still fishing, the best baits are frisky live fish, such as Blue Runners or other small jacks. Pinfish and Pilchards are good too, as are Mullet heads and other large cut baits. Best casting lures are leadhead jigs, weighing from 1-4 ounces, depending on depth. Trolling over the reefs with rigged, swimming Mullet, feather-and-strip combos, and large plugs also takes many.
The white-flaked flesh contains no intramuscular bones. The extra lean white meat is firm and moist with large flake and a sweet, mild flavor.
Mix 1/2 cup flavored bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Special K cereal and 1/4 cup corn flakes together. Whisk 1/2 cup milk and 2 eggs together well. Dredge 4 grouper fillets (6-7 oz each) through milk/egg mixture and then coat with cereal mixture (if needed press the cereal coating against the grouper). Sautee in heated oil about 4-5 minutes each side. Actual cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish and the temperature of the oil.
Check more great easy Grouper Recepies.