Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Serranidae
(Sea basses: groupers and fairy basslets) > Epinephelinae
Etymology: Mycteroperca: Greek, mykter, -eros = nose + Greek, perke = perch (Ref. 45335); phenax: Most probably a misspelling of the specific epithet because based on Labrus guaza Loefling 1758:104 (type locality: Cumana, Venezuela) (see CofF). More on authors: Jordan & Swain.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; brackish; reef-associated; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 30 - 100 m (Ref. 5222), usually 30 - 100 m (Ref. 5222). Subtropical; 41°N - 8°N, 98°W - 25°W (Ref. 5222)
Western Central Atlantic: Gulf of Mexico and east coast of US from North Carolina to Key West and along the southern shore of the Caribbean Sea. Juveniles are occasionally found as far north as Massachusetts.
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 33.2  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 107 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 89707); common length : 30.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3708); max. published weight: 14.2 kg (Ref. 40637); max. reported age: 21 years (Ref. 6846)
soft rays: 10 - 12. Distinguished by the following characteristics: four color patterns, first is brown phase with head and body pale brown covered with small reddish brown spots that extend onto median fins, second is cat's paw phase with pale brown body color with dorsolateral parts of body having several clusters of dark brown spots resembling the paw print of a cat, third is with large adults with grey-head phase with the rear two-thirds of the body dark, head and body anterior to the 6th dorsal-fin spine in silvery grey with dark reticulations and fourth is bicoloured phase with pale brown anteriorly and abruptly dark chocolate brown posteriorly; depth of body contained 3.0-3.4 times in SL; head length 2.6-3.0 times in SL; convex interorbital area; angular preopercle, angle with distinct bony lobe; serrate interopercle and subopercle; posterior nostrils of adults 2-4 times larger than anterior ones (Ref. 89707).
Found over ledges and high-relief rocky bottoms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico; at low-profile bottoms at depths of 30 to 100 m in North Carolina; this species was the most abundant grouper in areas of living Oculina coral formations at depths of 70 to 100 m off the east coast of Florida. This species apparently moved inshore when bottom temperature fell below 8.6°C. Juveniles found in shallow water at jetties and in mangrove areas.
Life cycle and mating behavior
Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae
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. 120744)
CITES (Ref. 118484)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes
Estimates based on models
Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969
): 20.7 - 27.5, mean 24.4 (based on 130 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 4.5 ±0.0 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 120179
): Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K=0.09-0.17; tmax=21).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): High to very high vulnerability (69 of 100) .