Conservation status: Endangered
Species: E. striatus
The Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) is one
of the large number of Perciform fish in the family
Serranidae that are commonly referred to as groupers.
It is the most important of the groupers for commercial
fishery in the West Indies but has been endangered
The Nassau grouper is a medium to large fish, growing
to over a metre in length and up to 25 kilograms
in weight. Its colour varies depending on circumstances.
In shallow water, it is basically tawny, but specimens
from deeper water are pinkish or red, sometimes
orange-red. Individual fish also change colour as
a function of motivational state. Superimposed on
this base colour are a number of lighter stripes,
darker spots, bars and patterns including black
spots below and behind the eye, and a forked stripe
on the top of head.
The Nassau grouper lives in the sea, preferring
to be near reefs; it is one of the largest fish
to be found around coral reefs. It can be found
anywhere from the shoreline to nearly 100m depth.
It is a fish of the western Atlantic Ocean, from
Bermuda, Florida and the Bahamas in the north to
southern Brazil, but nassa is only found in a few
places in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a solitary fish,
feeding in the daytime, mainly on other fish and
crabs. It spawns in December and January, always
around the time of the full moon, and always in
the same locations.
The Nassau grouper is fished both commercially and
for sport; it is less shy than other groupers, and
is readily approached by scuba divers. However,
its numbers have been sharply reduced by overfishing
in recent years, and it is a slow breeder. Furthermore
its historic spawning areas are easily targeted
for fishing, which tends to remove the reproductively
active members of the group. The species is therefore
highly vulnerable to overexploitation, and is recognised
as endangered on the IUCN Red List. The United States,
the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas governments have
banned fishing for it in recent years - in the case
of the Cayman Islands, until the end of 2011 in
the spawning holes, and in the case of the Bahamas,
for the months of December 2003 to February 2004,
with similar closures likely in future years.
The Nassua grouper has been depicted on postage
stamps of Cuba (1965, 1975), the Bahamas (1971 5
cent), and Antigua and Barbuda (1987 40c).
This article is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia
article "Nassau Grouper".