The Nassau Grouper fish identification, habitats, characteristics, Fishing methods
Growing to a maximum of 4 feet (1.2 m) and weighing over 50 pounds (22.7 kg), this grouper is one of the largest fish on the reef. More commonly, this grouper reaches a length of 1-2 feet (.3-.6 m) and weighs 10-20 pounds (4.5-9 kg). The maximum age reported for this fish is 16 years.
Nassau grouper, Epinephelus striatus, also known as White Grouper, Bahamas Grouper, Rockfish, Day Grouper, Grouper, Hamlet, Rockfish, Sweet Lip, Cherna, Cherna Criolla, Mero or Mero Gallina in Spanish, Merou Raye, Nagul, Negue, Tienne or Vieille in French. They are found throughout the tropical western Atlantic Ocean, including Bermuda, Florida, Bahamas, and throughout the Caribbean Sea, south to Brazil. They are occurring in the Gulf of Mexico in limited locations including the Yucatan, Tortugas, and Key West.
The Nassau grouper has oblong, compressed body with large eyes and coarse, spiny fins. The depth of the body is less than head length contained 2.6 to 3.2 times; head length 2.5 to 2.7 times in fish length. The 3rd or 4th spine of the dorsal fin is longer than the 2nd spine and. Pelvic fins are shorter than the pectoral fins, with the insertion point located below or behind the ventral terminus of the pectoral fin base. The bases of the soft dorsal and anal fins are covered with scales and skin. Caudal fin is rounded in juveniles, convex (corners angular) in adults. Preopercle rounded and evenly serrate at the angle enlarged, forming a weak lobe. Nostrils are subequal. Groupers have several sets of strong, slender teeth that act as raspers. These teeth are not used to tear flesh as with the barracudas and sharks, but rather to prevent small fish from escaping. Dorsal fin interspinous membranes distinctly incised, the fin margin rounded posteriorly. Anal fin margin distinctly pointed in adults.
Dorsal fin has 11 spines and 15 to 18 soft rays.
the membrane distinctly incised between spines.
3rd or 4th Dorsal fin spine are the longest.
Anal fin has 3 spines and 8 to 12 soft rays.
Pectoral fins have 15 to 19 rays.
Lateral-line scales 67 to 77.
Lateral-scale series 85 to 106.
Maximum total length is 80 - 100 cm.
Maximum weight at least 25 kg.
Gill rakers on first arch are 48 to 55.
(16 to 20 on upper limb, 132 to 36 on lower limb).
This grouper has a light, buff background color in shallow water individuals, pinkish to red in those from deeper water. Their head and body are grayish brown covered with 5 irregular dark brown vertical bars on each side and a large black saddle on the top of the caudal peduncle. The 3rd and 4th vertical bars, radiating posteriorly from eye and continuing along ventral half of body, form a W-shape above the lateral line. A tuning fork-shaped mark is located on the forehead. Another dark band travels from the tip of snout through the eye, curving upward to meet the same band from the other side, just before the dorsal fin origin. A row of black dots are located around the eyes. Median fins are darker than body and also with white spots and streaks. Some fish may have irregular pale spots and blotches all over the head and body.
The Nassau grouper can change color pattern from light to dark brown very quickly from almost white to uniformly dark brown, depending upon the surrounding environment and mood of the fish. Fish from deep water is usually pinkish or reddish ventrally. Another color pattern is observed in the Nassau grouper when two adults or an adult and large juvenile meet. The smaller individual displays a bicolored pattern, with a dark head and white fins, caudal peduncle with small black saddle, and ventral body. There is a white band that reaches from the snout, past the eye towards the dorsal fin. After swimming away, the bicolored fish resumes its normal barred pattern within minutes. This same bicolored pattern is observed in aggregations of spawning fishes, perhaps indicating a peaceful, non-territorial state.
This grouper is common on offshore rocky bottoms and coral reefs from 5 to 100 m throughout the Caribbean region. They occur at a depth range extending to at least 295 feet (90 m), preferring to rest near or close to the bottom. Juveniles are found closer to shore in seagrass beds that offer a suitable nursery habitat. Nassau groupers are typically solitary and diurnal, seldom form schools. When in danger, escaping from the predators, this fish can camouflage itself, blending in with the surrounding rocks and corals. Groupers are frequent visitors to wrasse cleaning stations. At these stations, cleaner wrasses pick parasites and dead tissues from the grouper's gills and body. The grouper will open its mouth in a non-threatening manner, attracting cleaner fish to enter its mouth to remove parasites.
The Nassau grouper is a carnivorous predator and has a diet that consists mainly of fish, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, octopuses and mollusks. This fish is very smart, using a camouflage it hide and patiently waits until it pounces on its prey. They prey for parrotfishes, wrasses, damselfishes, squirrelfishes, snappers, and grunts. By opening its mouth and dilating the gill covers to draw water in, groupers generally swallow up their prey hole in one quick motion.
During the winter months, in January and February, near the full moon, the Nassau grouper forms large spawning aggregations in depth of 65-130 ft (20-40 m) on the outer reef shelf edge from a few dozen to over 100,000 individuals. In Bermuda, spawning lasts from early May to August in Bahamas spawning occurs near the full moon of December.
Groupers are protogynous hermaphrodites. After spawning as a female for one or more years, the grouper changes sex, functioning as a male during future spawning events. The sex change is triggered when the fish aggregate in preparation for spawning. Most fish display the bicolored (dark dorsally, pale ventrally non-aggressive) pattern and swim in circle near the bottom. Some females remain in the barred color pattern and become very dark as mating approaches. A group of bicolored males swims in circles near the female upon sunset. Spawning occurs at sunset, in groups of 3 to about 25 fish and is preceded by various movements of the courting group that includes vertical spirals, short vertical runs followed by crowding together and rapid dispersal, and horizontal runs near the bottom.
Release of eggs is initiated by the female moving in a rapid forward and upward direction. The eggs are released by the female, followed by the release of sperm by all the following bicolored males as well as further release of eggs by some bicolored females. This is known as the spawning rush. Fertilization occurs by chance in the open waters.
The eggs hatch into pelagic larvae that drift along with the currents for a month or so, prior to becoming juveniles after 37 to 45 days. The larvae are characterized by kite-shaped bodies and elongated second dorsal spines. Juveniles settle at lengths of approximately 32mm, residing in vegetated areas near coral clumps. At 120-150mm in length, the juvenile Nassau groupers move out from vegetated areas to surrounding patch reefs.
This fish is considered an important food fish throughout the Caribbean and in the West Indies. Hook and line as well as traps are the main methods used to capture the Nassau grouper. The flesh is primarily marketed as fresh or frozen.
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.