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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

Nassau Grouper

The Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus), is one of the large number of Perciform fish in the family Serranidae that are commonly referred to as groupers. It is the most important of the groupers for commercial fishery in the West Indies but has been endangered by overfishing.

The Nassau grouper lives in the sea, preferring to be near reefs. it is one of the largest fish to be found around coral reefs. It can be found anywhere from the shoreline to nearly 330 feet depth. It is a fish of the western Atlantic Ocean, from Bermuda, Florida and the Bahamas in the north to southern Brazil, but it is only found in a few places in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Nassau grouper is a medium to large fish, growing to over 3 feet in length and up to 55 pounds in weight. Its color varies depending on circumstances. In shallow water, it is basically tawny, but specimens from deeper water are pinkish or red, sometimes orange-red. Individual fish also change color as a function of motivational state. Superimposed on this base color are a number of lighter stripes, darker spots, bars and patterns including black spots below and behind the eye, and a forked stripe on the top of head.

It is a solitary fish, feeding in the daytime, mainly on other fish and crabs. It spawns in December and January, always around the time of the full moon, and always in the same locations. During winter, by the light of the full moon, huge numbers of fish cluster together to mate. One reason the Nassau grouper is so depleted is that its huge spawning groups make easy targets for fishermen, who scoop up large numbers of the reproducing fish. Many other grouper and snapper species are in trouble for the same reason.

Nassau Grouper