The Snowy Grouper fish identification, habitats, characteristics, Fishing methods
The Snowy Grouper, also known as the Brownie, chocolate or golden grouper is named for the white spots that are geometrically placed on their bodies. This tropical species lives in the outer continental shelf in water 600 to 1,000 feet deep. Small ones may come in as shallow as 250 or 300 feet on occasion. They are often found on ship wrecks and other reefs. Snowy Grouper can grow up to about 4 feet in length, and weigh as much as 50lbs. They are highly territorial, and very cannibalistic. They will eat any fish up to their own size, but especially like deep water crabs and butterfish. It is one of the best-eating groupers, have an excellent food value. Their color is dark gray or brown with scattered whitish spots.
Snowy grouper, Epinephelus niveatus, also known as Golden Grouper, is deep water fish distributed throughout Florida and the Western Bahamas, in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda, Caribbean, the Lesser Antilles, Bimini and the northern coast of Cuba.
Snowy Grouper have a look that is attractive as it is distinct. The typical grouper body shape is modified by slightly longer pectoral fins, and sharper points along the spines of the dorsal fin. Wide, large eyes are located barely above a typically large mouth. The wide tail fin is rusty in tone, and almost transparent. Coloration is extremely pleasant, with basically darker purple or brown hues comprising a background highlighted by white dots that look like snowflakes fallen on an antique Oldsmobile. This pattern is consistent for juveniles, but the spots tend to fade with age. Adults retain black or dark brown bodies, but with lighter marks on the tail and caudal fins.
Body depth 2.5 to 2.8, head length 2.2 to 2.4 times in standard length (for fish 15 to 27 cm standard length). Preopercle with enlarged serrae at the angle; upper edge of operculum very convex; posterior nostril 2 to 5 times larger than anterior nostril. Pyloric caeca numerous. juveniles with pelvic fins longer than pectoral fins. Rear margin of caudal fin convex in juveniles (5 to 30 cm standard length), straight or concave in adults.
Dorsal fin has 11 spines and 13 to 15 soft rays.
The membrane distinctly incised between spines.
Anal fin has 3 spines and 9 soft rays.
Pectoral fins have 18 to 19 rays.
Midlateral body scales rough.
Lateral-line scales 65.
Maximum total length is 120 cm.
Maximum weight at least 30 kg.
Gill rakers on first arch are 22 to 26.
(7 to 10 on upper limb, 15 to 17 on lower limb).
The coloration of this species varies with the size of the fish. Smaller fish are dark brown overall, punctuated with coin-size pearly white spots on the sides in vertical series usually extending onto head and dorsal fin. Adults are dark brown, with margin of spinous dorsal fin black. The caudal and pectoral fins are pale yellow. A distinctive black, saddle-shaped blotch occurs on the caudal peduncle and extends down below the lateral line. Larger snowy groupers usually lose the white spots and caudal saddle and become dark brown with a slight coppery tint. The spiny portion of the dorsal fin has a black margin.
The eastern Pacific species Star-studded grouper is very similar to Snowy Grouper; juvenile Star-studded grouper (5 to 10 cm standard length) have smaller eyes, pelvic fins not longer than pectoral fins, and more pectoral-fin rays (modally 19). Snowy Grouper grow quite quickly. Juveniles can grow over a foot in a matter of several months.
Sometimes called the chocolate or golden grouper, the snowy is a fish of deep water with adults living in the outer continental shelf in water 600 to 1,000 feet deep. Snowy groupers can be found in the outer continental shelf of the South Atlantic Bight, which is characterized by ridges, terraces and precipitous cliffs. These fish are usually found offshore in depths of at least 400 feet, and they are not commonly encountered by anglers.
Adults occur on rocky bottoms at depths of 30 to 400 m, but are most common between 100 and 200 m. Juveniles occur inshore and often reported from northeast coast of USA. Adults feed mainly on fishes, gastropods, cephalopods, and brachyuran crustaceans. These fish are found primarily in marine environments, but can also occur in brackish and freshwater areas.
Snowy grouper are protogynous hermaphrodites, spawning from April to July and producing more than 2 million eggs. Females are mature when they are 4 or 5 years old, about 18 to 20 inches (40 to 50 cm) long, males became mature at 6 years old (55 to 60 cm). They may reach a maximum age of 17 years and a weight of 70 pounds. The snowy grouper is territorial, like most groupers, and waits to ambush its prey. Mating rites are assumed to involve one male and a harem of females, followed by a seasonal run up the water column, where millions of eggs are fertilized.
Commercially important stocks occur from North Carolina to Georgia, off Florida west coast, lower Florida Keys, Honduras/Nicaraguan shelf, Panama, and Colombia.
Snowy groupers are eager to strike; they could be caught with hook-and-line, bottom longlines, and traps. A favorite fish for meals it also tastes delicious. Finding one and hooking it is difficult enough, and it can take a long time to pull it to the surface. It is a challenge and rarity to catch and land Snowy grouper.
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.