Olive Grouper

Olive Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi

The Olive Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi, whose common Spanish name is Cabrilla Gallina and is known locally as Cerduda, Cabrilla, or Garropa, is a member of the Grouper or Epinephelidae Family, known collectively as “Cabrillas” and “Garropas” in Mexico.

The Olive Groupers are characterized by beefy and disproportionally wide bodies with uniform gray-brown, with green tinges. The key to identification is the second of their eleven dorsal spines, which is the longest. They have 27-31 gill rakers, a complete lateral line with a smooth arch extending into the caudal base, and a small mustache on their upper lip. Their fins are darker than their body and their anal fin has a strong second spine. The juveniles have a dark line above their jaw.

The Olive Groupers are found within patch reefs that are adjacent to sandy bottoms at depths between 120 and 400 feet. They reach a maximum length of 100 cm (39 inches) and weigh up to 9 kg (20 pounds). The Olive Grouper was unknown in Mexican waters until I caught one off the Gordo Bank in 2006. They were previously only known to the Coco and Galapagos Islands and in the coastal waters of Costa Rica and Ecuador. They are a rare, relatively deep water species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.

The Olive Grouper can be confused with the Gulf Coney, Hyporthodus acanthistius (nine dorsal spines, third, fourth, and fifth being the longest), the Star-Studded Grouper, Hyporthodus niphobles (eleven dorsal spines, second being the longest), and the Tenspine Grouper, Hyporthodus exsul(ten dorsal spines; 24-27 gill rakers).

The Olive Groupers, although somewhat rare, are considered an excellent food fish.

Olive Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi, Fish caught off the Gordo I Bank (23.02, 109.31) on a Sabiki Rig, December 2013. Length 38 cm (11 inches).  Note the unusual wide body of this fish!
Olive Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi, Fish caught off the Gordo I Bank (23.02, 109.31) on a Sabiki Rig, December 2013. Length 38 cm (11 inches). Note the unusual wide body of this fish!

Oliver Grouper

Olive Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi: Fish caught out of 300-foot water off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, June 2014, on Sabiki Rig. Length: 34.5 cm (13.6 inches).
Olive Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi: Fish caught out of 300-foot water off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, June 2014, on Sabiki Rig. Length: 35 cm (14 inches).