Gulf Grouper

Gulf Grouper, Mycteroperca jordani

The Gulf Grouper, Mycteroperca jordani, whose common Spanish name is Baya and whose local name is Cabrilla, is a member of the Grouper or Epinephelidae Family, known collectively as “Cabrillas” and “Garropas” in Mexico.

The Gulf Groupers are gray-brown in color and characterized by their “grouper-like” appearance, with the fourth and fifth dorsal spines being the longest. A series of solid, irregular blotches radiate from the face area when they are alive. Their tails are straight or slightly concave, their gill covers are rounded and notched, and their fins are tipped in white.

The Gulf Groupers are found within rocky reefs and in kelp beds with large adults being common in shallow water at depths between 25 and 150 feet. They reach a maximum length of 198 cm (6.5 feet) and weigh up to 91 kg (200 pounds). A Gulf Grouper Weight From Length Conversion Table has been included in this website to allow the accurate determination of a fish weight and a return to the ocean unharmed. They are voracious ambush predators feeding on small fish. They have a slow growth rate reaching maturity at the age of six or seven years. They are aggregating spawners with females significantly outnumbering males indicative that they are protogynous hermaphrodites who change from female to male at mid-life. In Mexican waters they are found along the Pacific Coast of Baja and throughout the Sea of Cortez and are absent from along the coast of the mainland south of Mazatlán.

The Gulf Grouper can be confused with the Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha (second thru seventh dorsal spines of equal length).

Due to its size, strength, and food value, the Gulf Groupers are an intense object of game fishing. They are considered an excellent food fish and are sold commercially in numerous local fish markets commanding high prices. They are one of the important food fish of the Sea of Cortez.

The Gulf Groupers are currently considered an ENDANGERED SPECIES due to their population decline of at least 50% over the past 30 years, directly attributed to intensive recreational fishing pressure. There has also been a significant decline in the size of the fish boated. This fishing pressure is likely to increase along with associated reef habitat destruction as greater investment in recreational fisheries occurs. They are a large species with high longevity and are caught at heavily fished spawning aggregations, both factors making this species particularly vulnerable to overfishing. Historically they dominated the rocky-reef fish community in terms of biomass comprising 45% of the total finfish production in the late 50′s to the current levels of less than 1%. A generic table for Groupers allowing the determination of the weight of a fish from its length has been included with the hope that perhaps some fish will be handled as “catch and release.”

 Gulf Grouper, Mycteroperca jordani: Fish caught out of 100-foot water 15 miles north of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, October 2005, utilizing a flylinned live Blue and Gold Snapper. Size: 137 cm (54 inches) and 65 pounds.

Gulf Grouper, Mycteroperca jordani: Fish caught out of 100-foot water 15 miles north of Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, October 2005, utilizing a fly-lined live Blue and Gold Snapper. Length: 137 cm (54 inches) and 29kg (65 pounds).

Gulf Grouper, Mycteroperca jordani: Fish caught out of 75-foot water off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, April 2012, utilizing a flylinned Cabalito. Size: 80 cm (31 inches) and 13 pounds. Catch courtesy of Captiain Barco
Gulf Grouper, Mycteroperca jordani: Fish caught out of 75-foot water off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, April 2012, utilizing a fly-linned Cabalito. Length: 80 cm (31 inches) and 13 pounds. Catch courtesy of Captain Barco.