The New International Encyclopædia/Grouper

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GROUPER (probably from Sp. garrupa, from the American Indian name). A general name for the fishes of the genus Epinephelus, typical of the group Epinephalinæ, a section of the sea-bass family Serranidæ. It is the largest, most widely distributed, and most important genus of the Serranidæ. They are mainly of large size, and occur frequently in all the tropical seas, where they are valuable for food. About a dozen species are known on the southern coast of the United States, and about the West Indies, where various ones are called ‘cabrilla,’ ‘cherna,’ ‘guasa,’ and ‘mero’ by Spanish-speaking fishermen, ‘hind’ in the British Islands and at the Cape of Good Hope, and ‘jewfish’ (q.v.) in Florida. They have a robust, powerful form, and are usually greenish-gray, or orange-brown, varied with many blotches and bars, and with dark fins—on the whole very handsome fishes. The best known and most common American species is the red grouper (Epinephelus morio), which ranges from Virginia to Brazil. It averages about two feet in length, and is generally gray, but reddish about the mouth, this color deepening and spreading with age. It remains near the bottom, not far from shore, feeds on crabs and small fish, and when caught offers no resistance. It is an important food-fish, but not of the first quality in flavor. Another much smaller species (Epinephelus maculosus) is the ‘red hind’ or ‘cabrilla,’ so constantly seen in the markets of Havana. The common Bermudan grouper (Epinephelus striatus) is larger; and the ‘rock hind’ or ‘cabra mora’ (Epinephelus Adscensionis), which is also known on the African coast, ranks highest of all as a table fish. The black grouper of Key West (Mycteroperca bonaci), also called ‘aguaji,’ represents an allied genus, several species of which are called ‘groupers,’ ‘rockfish,’ or ‘bonacis,’ and are large and important food-fishes. The great jewfish or warsaw (Garrupa nigrita) is also sometimes denominated ‘black grouper.’ See Guasa; Jewfish; Rockfish; Sea-Bass; Scamp; and Colored Plate of Philippine Fishes.