Olive Grouper

Olive Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi

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

The Olive Grouper is characterized by its beefy, gray-brown with green, iridescent disproportionally wide body with uniform coloration. The key to identification being that the second of its eleven dorsal spines 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 the upper lip. The fins are darker than the body; the anal fin has a strong second spine. The juveniles have a dark line above the jaw.

The Olive Grouper is 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 weight up to 9 kg (20 pounds). The Olive Grouper was unknown in Mexican waters until I caught one off the Gordo I Bank in 2006. They were known only to the Coco and Galapagos Islands and in the coastal waters of Costa Rica and Ecuador. As a rare relatively deep water species not much 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 longest) and the Star-Studded Grouper, Hyporthodus niphobles (eleven dorsal spines, second longest), and the Ten Spine Grouper, Epinephelus exsul (ten dorsal spines, 24-27 gill rakers).

The Olive Grouper, although somewhat rare is considered to be an excellent food fish.

Epinephelus cifuentesi (1), Olive Grouper, 38 cm, caught on December, off the Gordo I Bank (23.02, 109.31) on a Sabiki Rig.  Note the unusal wide body of this fish!
Olive Grouper, Epinephelus cifuentesi, 38 cm, caught on December, off the Gordo I Bank (23.02, 109.31) on a Sabiki Rig. 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: 34.5 cm (13.6 inches).