Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha
The Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha, whose common Spanish name is cabrilla plomuda, is a species in the family Epinephelidae, the Groupers, known as cabrillas and garropas in Mexico. Globally, there are fifteen species in the genus Mycteroperca, of which eleven are found in Mexican waters, seven in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific.
The Broomtail Groupers have elongated, robust, and compressed bodies that are light-brown in color and feature elongated dark brown blotches with white centers (giving the appearance of “lipstick kiss marks”). They have a projecting lower jaw with prominent canine teeth and their gill covers are notched and strongly serrated. Their second to seventh dorsal spines are of equal length, a key to identification. Their caudal fin has a jagged rear edge; its common name is derived from this characteristic feature.
The Broomtail Groupers are found in reefs, rocky areas, and mangrove estuaries at depths up to 225 feet. They reach a maximum length of 150 cm (59 inches) and weigh up to 45.4 kg (100 pounds). They are found in all Mexican waters of the Pacific with the exception of the northern third of the Sea of Cortez. Although widespread, they are not abundant and little is known about their behavioral patterns.
The Broomtail Grouper is most likely confused with the Gulf Grouper, Mycteroperca jordani (fourth and fifth dorsal spines being the longest) and the Goldspotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax auroguttatus (very long third dorsal spine).
The Broomtail Groupers are important fish in the Sea of Cortez. They are considered an excellent food fish, are sold commercially, and are a prime target of the sports fishing industry.
The Broomtail Groupers are currently considered of LEAST CONCERN from a conservation perspective, however, population trends are unknown and we are absolutely certain that this perspective will change in the near future. From our experience this species has virtually disappeared. They are a fully protected species in California.