Clipperton Grouper

Clipperton Grouper, Epinephelus clippertonensis

The Clipperton Grouper, Epinephelus clippertonensis, whose common Spanish name is Cabrilla de Clipppeton and who is known locally as Cabrilla, is a member of the Grouper or Epinephelidae Family, known collectively as “Cabrillas” and “Garropas” in Mexico. The Clipperton Grouper was named after the location where it was first discovered, the uninhabited French-owned Clipperton Island, located 1,120 km (695 miles) southwest of mainland Mexico.

The Clipperton Groupers have pale gray to light brown robust compressed bodies that are covered with white spots and flecks throughout. They have eleven dorsal spines and all their soft fins have red margins. Their anal and caudal fins are rounded. They have a small black saddle on the upper part of their caudal fin base. They are solitary predators and feed primarily on crustaceans at night and on small fish during the day.

The Clipperton Groupers are found over rocky bottoms at depths up to 330 feet. They reach a maximum length of 61 cm (24.0 inches) and weigh up to 2 kg (4.4 pounds). In Mexican waters they are found from Cabo Pulmo to Todos Santos around the tip of the Baja and around the Alijos Rocks and Revillagigedos oceanic islands. Their presence around the tip of the Baja has been established by fish we have caught and have been given. They are an exceedingly rare species and very little is known their about behavioral patterns.

The Clipperton Grouper is very easy to identify due to its body shape and coloration, however it is very similar in size, shape and habitat and easily confused with the Flag Cabrilla, Epinephelus labriformis (prominent mid-body spotting; prominent black spot on upper part of caudal fin base).

The Clipperton Groupers are exceedingly rare and therefore of limited interest. They have a very limited distribution range and were first reported in the literature in 1999.

Clipperton Grouper, Epinephelus clippertonensis: Fish caught in 50-foot water, 15 miles north of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, June 2008. Length: 40 cm (16 inches), on a Sabiki rig. Identification courtesy of Dr. Matt Craig and reconfirmed by H.J. Walker, Jr., both of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.
Clipperton Grouper, Epinephelus clippertonensis: Fish caught in 50-foot water, 15 miles north of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, June 2008. Length: 40 cm (16 inches), on a Sabiki rig. Identification courtesy of Dr. Matt Craig and reconfirmed by H.J. Walker, Jr., both of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.