Northern Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi: The Northern Grouper is characterized by its beefy, gray-brown with green, iridescent body with uniform coloration. The second of its eleven characteristic and identifying dorsal spines is the longest. The Northern Grouper has a complete lateral line, with a smooth arch that extends into the tail base. The fins are darker than the body, and a strong second anal spine is present.
The Northern Grouper reaches 3 feet in length and up to 20 pounds and is found on patch reefs with sandy bottoms between 120 and 400 feet in the water column. As it is a deep water species, not much is known about its behavior.
The Northern Grouper might be confused with the Gulf Coney, Cephalopholis acanthistius (dorsal fin with nine spines of which the third, fourth and fifth are the longest).
The distribution of the Northern Grouper in Mexican waters was unknown until collection of the specimen pictured below at San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur. The Northern Grouper is normally only found around the Cocos and Galapagos Islands and in the coastal waters of Costa Rica and Ecuador.
The Northern Grouper is one of a group of several sea bass and groupers comprising the family Serranidae.