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Epinephelus itajara (Lichtenstein, 1822)
Goliath Grouper; Itajara grouper

Life   Vertebrata   Fish   Serranidae   Epinephelus

Epinephelus itajara
© Copyright Ross Robertson, 2006 · 12
Epinephelus itajara

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Epinephelus itajara
© Copyright Ross Robertson, 2006 · 12
Epinephelus itajara

Main identification features
  • d: xi, spines shorter than rays
  • c: rounded
  • grey + pale blotches and dark spots
  • juv: dark bars and spots
Dorsal rays XI,15-16, the spines shorter than the rays; anal rays III,8; pectoral rays 19; rakers on first arch 22-24; tail rounded.

Fish under 100 cm greenish to tawny brown with oblique, irregular darker brown bars; larger fish grey or greenish with pale blotches and smaller dark brown or blackish spots scattered over upper parts of head, body, and on pectoral fins.

The largest bony reef fish in the region, growing to 250 cm and 320 kg.

Size: 250 cm. Reaches at least 309 kg.

Habitat: rocky reefs as well as bays, estuaries and mangrove areas.

Depth: 1-100 m.

Western and eastern Atlantic and eastern Pacific; southern Baja and the central Gulf of California to Peru, the Revillagigedos, Cocos and Malpelo.

Abundance: Common.
Cites: Not listed.
Climate Zone: North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California); Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap); Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos); Equatorial (Costa Rica to Ecuador + Galapagos, Clipperton, Cocos, Malpelo); South Temperate (Peruvian Province ).
Depth Range Max: 100 m.
Depth Range Min: 1 m.
Diet: bony fishes; mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs); octopus/squid/cuttlefish; sea snakes/mammals/turtles/birds; sharks/rays.
Eastern Pacific Range: Northern limit=30; Southern limit=-6; Western limit=-115; Eastern limit=-78; Latitudinal range=36; Longitudinal range=37.
Egg Type: Pelagic; Pelagic larva.
Feeding Group: Carnivore.
FishBase Habitat: Reef Associated.
Global Endemism: East Pacific + Atlantic (East +/or West); Transisthmian (East Pacific + Atlantic of Central America); East Pacific + all Atlantic (East+West); TEP non-endemic; All species.
Habitat: Estuary; Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom); Rocks; Sand & gravel; Soft bottom (mud, sand,gravel, beach, estuary & mangrove); Reef (rock &/or coral); Reef and soft bottom.
Inshore Offshore: Inshore; Inshore Only.
IUCN Red List: Critically endangered; Listed.
Length Max: 250 cm.
Regional Endemism: Island (s); Continent; Continent + Island (s); Eastern Pacific non-endemic; Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic; All species.
Residency: Resident.
Salinity: Brackish; Marine.
Water Column Position: Bottom; Bottom only;

Scientific source:

Links to other sites

  • Acero, A. and Franke, R., 2001., Peces del parque nacional natural Gorgona. En: Barrios, L. M. y M. Lopéz-Victoria (Eds.). Gorgona marina: Contribución al conocimiento de una isla única., INVEMAR, Serie Publicaciones Especiales No. 7:123-131.
  • Bullock , L. H. , Murphy , M. D. , Godcharles , M. F. and Mitchell, M. E., 1992., Age, growth, and reproduction of jewfish Epinephelus itajara in the eastern Gulf of Mexico., Fishery Bulletin, 90:243-249.
  • Béarez, P., 1996., Lista de los Peces Marinos del Ecuador Continental., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 44:731-741.
  • Castri-Aguirre, J.L., Espinoza-Pérez, H. and Schmitter-Soto, J.J., 2002., Lista sitemática, biogeográfica y ecológica de la ictiofauna estuarino lagunar y vicaria de México. En: Lozano-Vilano, M. L. (Ed.). Libro Jubilar en Honor al Dr. Salvador Contreras Balderas., Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León:117-142.
  • Castro-Aguirre, J.L., 1999., Ictiofauna estuarino-lagunar y vicaria de México., Editorial Limusa S.A. de C.V.: 1-629pp.
  • Findley, L.T., Hendrickx, M.E., Brusca, R.C., van der Heiden, A.M., Hastings, P.A., Torre, J., 2003., Diversidad de la Macrofauna Marina del Golfo de California, Mexico., CD-ROM versión 1.0. Projecto de la Macrofauna del Golfo .  Derechos reservados de los autores y Conservación Internacional.
  • Fischer , W. , Krup , F. , Schneider , W. , Sommer , C. , Carpenter , K. E. and Niem, V. H., 1995., Guia FAO para la Identificacion de Especies de para los fines de la Pesca. Pacifico Centro-Oriental. Volumen III. Vertebrados - Parte 2., FAO3:1201-1813.
  • Franke , R. and Acero P., A., 1995., Peces Serranidos del Parque Gorgona, Pacífico Colombiano (Osteichthyes: Serranidae)., Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, 19:593-600.
  • Galván-Magaña, F., Abitia-Cárdenas, L.A., Rodríguez-Romero, J., Pérez-España, H., Chávez-Ramos, H., 1996., Systematics list of the fishes from Cerralvo island, Baja California Sur, Mexico., Ciencias Marinas, 22:295-311.
  • Galván-Magaña, F., Gutiérrez-Sánchez, F., Abitia-Cárdenas, L.A., Rodríguez-Romero, J., 2000., The distribution and affinities of the shore fishes of the Baja California Sur lagoons. In Aquatic Ecosystems of Mexico: Status and Scope. Eds. M. Manuwar, S.G. Lawrence, I.F. Manuwar & D.F. Malley. Ecovision World Monograph Series., Backhuys Publishers:383-398.
  • Heemstra , P.C. and Randall, J.E., 1993., Groupers of the World (Family Serranidae, Subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date. FAO Species Catalogue Vol. 16., FAO Fish. Synop. No 125, 125:I-viii, 1-382.
  • Jimenez-Prado, P., Béarez, P., 2004., Peces marinos del Ecuador continental / Marine fishes of continental Ecuador., SIMBIOE/NAZCA/IFEA tomo 1 y 2.
  • Lichtenstein,., 1822., Die Werke von Marcgrave und Piso Über die Naturgeschichte Brasiliens, erläutert aus den wieder aufgefundenen Original-Abbildungen., Abh. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, :267-288.
  • Lopez , M. I. and Bussing, W. A., 1982., Lista provisional de los peces marinos de la Costa Rica., Revista de Biologia Tropical, 30(1):5-26.
  • Love, M.S., Mecklenburg, C.W., Mecklenburg, T.A., Thorsteinson, L.K., 2005., es of the West Coast and Alaska: a checklist of North Pacific and Artic Ocena species from Baja California to the Alaska-Yukon border., U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, 288pp.
  • Meek , S.E. and Hildebrand, S.F., 1925., The marine fishes of Panama. Part II., Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Zool. Ser. Publ., XV:331-707.
  • Musick, J.A., Harbin, M.M., Berkeley, S.A., Burgess, G.H. Eklund, A.M., Findley, L., Gilmore, R.G., Golden, J.T., Ha, D.S., Huntsman, G.R., McGovern, J.C., Parker, S.J., Poss, S.G., Sala, E., & Schmidt, T.W., Sedberry, G.R., Weeks, H., Wright, S.G., 2000., Marine, estuarine, and diadromous fish stocks at risk of extinction in North America (exclusive of Pacific salmonids)., Fisheries, 25:6-30.
  • Rubio, E.A., 1988., Estudio taxonomico de la ictiofauna acompañante del camaron en areas costeras del Pacifico de Colombia., Memorias del VI Seminario Nacional de las Ciencias del Mar. Comisión Colombiana de Oceanografía. Bogota, Colombia., :169-183.
  • Thomson , D.A. , Findley , L.T. and Kerstitch, A.N., 2000., Reef fishes of the Sea of Cortez., University of Texas Press(Revised Ed.):353.
  • Van der Heiden , A. M. and Findley, L. T., 1988., Lista de los peces marinos del sur de Sinaloa, México., Anales del Centro de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia de la Universidad Autonoma Nacional de Mexico, 15:209-224.
  • Vega, A.J., Villareal, N., 2003., Peces asociados a arrecifes y manglares en el Parque Nacional Coiba., Tecnociencia, 5:65-76.
  • Villareal-Cavazos, A., Reyes-Bonilla, H., Bermúdez-Almada, B. and Arizpe-Covarrubias, O., 2000., Los peces del arrecife de Cabo Pulmo, Golfo de California, México: Lista sistemática y aspectos de abundancia y biogeografía., Rev. Biol. Trop., 48:413-424.


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http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?genusname=Epinephelus&speciesname=itajara ---> http://www.fishbase.se/summary/Epinephelus-itajara.html

Common name (e.g. trout)

Genus + Species (e.g. Gadus morhua)

Epinephelus itajara   (Lichtenstein, 1822)

Atlantic goliath grouper Add your observation in Fish Watcher
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Pictures | Sounds | Stamps, Coins Misc. | Google image Image of Epinephelus itajara (Atlantic goliath grouper) Epinephelus itajara
Picture by Bertoncini, A.A.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes ( gen. , sp. ) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes (Perch-likes) > Serranidae (Sea basses: groupers and fairy basslets) > Epinephelinae
Etymology: Epinephelus: Greek, epinephelos = cloudy (Ref. 45335 ) .

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; brackish; reef-associated; depth range 0 - 100 m (Ref. 9710 ), usually ? - 46 m (Ref. 55295 ).   Subtropical; 36°N - 33°S, 121°W - 12°E (Ref. 55295 )

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Western Atlantic: Florida, USA to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Eastern Atlantic: Senegal to Congo (reported as Epinephelus esonue , Ref. 2739, 6809); rare in Canary Islands (Ref. 6808 ). Eastern Pacific (Gulf of California to Peru) species refers to Epinephelus quinquefasciatus . Discrete populations of E. itajara exist in the western Atlantic (Ref. 89627 ).

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: L m 128.0   range ? - ? cm
Max length : 250 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26550 ); common length : 150 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5217 ); max. published weight: 455.0 kg (Ref. 4841 ); max. reported age: 37 years (Ref. 4841 )

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 11; Dorsal soft rays (total): 15-16; Anal spines : 3; Anal soft rays : 8. Distinguished by the following characteristics: brownish yellow, grey or greenish body color; head and dorsal part of body and fins with small black spots; body robust and elongate; body depth contained 2.7-3.4 times in SL; HL 2.3-2.9 in SL; extremely broad head; flat interorbital; rounded preopercle, finely serrate; round nostrils, subequal; maxilla scaly, reaching well past eye; 3-5 rows of subequal teeth on midlateral part of lower jaw; absence of canines at front jaw (Ref. 89707 ); further characterized by having opercle with 3 flat spines, middle one the largest. Pelvic fins smaller than the pectorals. Bases of soft dorsal and anal fins covered with scales and thick skin. Juveniles tawny with irregular vertical bands.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

A solitary species (Ref. 26340 ) occurring in shallow, inshore areas. Found on rock, coral, or mud bottoms (Ref. 5217 ). Juveniles found in mangrove areas and brackish estuaries (Ref. 5217 ). Large adults may be found in estuaries (Ref. 5217 ). Adults appear to occupy limited home ranges with little inter-reef movement. Feeds primarily on crustaceans, particularly spiny lobsters as well as turtles and fishes, including stingrays. Territorial near it's refuge cave or wreck where it may show a threat display with open mouth and quivering body. Larger individuals have been known to stalk and attempt to eat divers. Over-fished, primarily by spear fishing (Ref. 9710 ). Marketed fresh and salted. Meat is of excellent quality. Important game fish (Ref. 9342 ). Reported to reach weights of more than 315 kg (Ref. 26938 ).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Heemstra, Phillip C. | Collaborators

Heemstra, P.C. and J.E. Randall , 1993. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16. Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephelinae). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the grouper, rockcod, hind, coral grouper and lyretail species known to date. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(16):382 p. (Ref. 5222 )

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 115185 )

  Critically Endangered (CR)  (A2d),  IUCN Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group

CITES (Ref. 115941 )

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361 )

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Traumatogenic (Ref. 4716 )

Human uses

Fisheries: minor commercial; gamefish: yes FAO(Publication : search ) | FishSource | Sea Around Us

More information

FAO areas
Food items
Food consumption
Common names
Egg development
Larval dynamics
Aquaculture profile
Allele frequencies
Mass conversion
Stamps, Coins Misc.
Swim. type
Gill area


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Summary page | Point data | Common names | Photos

Internet sources

Aquatic Commons | BHL | Cloffa | Websites from users | Check FishWatcher | CISTI | Catalog of Fishes ( gen. , sp. ) | DiscoverLife | ECOTOX | Faunafri | Fishtrace | GenBank( genome , nucleotide ) | GloBI | GoMexSI (interaction data) | Google Books | Google Scholar | Google | IGFA World Record | MitoFish | National databases | OsteoBase( skull , spine ) | Otolith Atlas of Taiwan Fishes | Public aquariums | PubMed | Reef Life Survey | SeaLifeBase | Tree of Life | Wikipedia( Go , Search ) | World Records Freshwater Fishing | Zoological Record

Estimates of some properties based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969 ): 22.8 - 28, mean 26.3 (based on 532 cells). Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805 ):  PD 50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high]. Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01096 (0.00647 - 0.01859), b=3.04 (2.90 - 3.18), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this species & Genus-body shape (Ref. 93245 ). Trophic Level (Ref. 69278 ):  4.1   ±0.0 se; Based on diet studies. Resilience (Ref. 69278 ):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.13; tm=5.5-6.5). Prior r = 0.27, 2 SD range = 0.2 - 0.37, log(r) = -1.31, SD log(r) = 0.16, Based on: 1 K, 2 tgen, 2 tmax, records Vulnerability (Ref. 59153 ):  High to very high vulnerability (70 of 100) . Price category (Ref. 80766 ):   Very high .

Entered by Luna, Susan M. Modified by Sampang-Reyes, Arlene G. Fish Forum
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