Species encyclopedia

Dusky Grouper

Epinephelus marginatus


Groupers belong to the Serranidae family, which counts more than 400 identified species.

Their bodies are massive and their prominent mouth holds many small teeth behind its fleshy lips. They are characterized by fins with spiny rays that they display whenever they sense any danger.

Groupers are solitary, territorial creatures. They look for a sheltered spot like a pile of rocks and adopt it as their permanent home. They only leave it to feed. Despite their lethargic appearance, they are voracious carnivores that lie in wait to hunt.


Their diet comprises molluscs, crabs and fish. To catch their prey, they either leap onto the animal with impressive agility for their size and wolf it down, or they inhale enough water to pull it directly into their mouth as the prey passes nearby. Their mottled colour provides excellent camouflage.

Moreover, the name of the genus, Epinephelus, which includes most species of grouper, comes from the Greek ‘epinefelos’, for ‘cloudy’, due to the varying intensities of the spots covering their bodies.


As a general rule, groupers are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female organs. Dusky groupers are all born female, then switch sexes at the age of 10 to 14 years. In other words, the largest specimens (more than 1 m long) are all male.

This species, which lives 40 to 50 years, can reach a length of 1.50 m and a weight of 65 kg. They are curious fish, making them easy prey for underwater hunters.

The dusky grouper nearly disappeared from the Mediterranean coast, as a victim of its impassivity and the ease with which humans can approach and hunt it.
Nonetheless, after a moratorium on its underwater hunting and then on angling, we are seeing young groupers beginning to return to the coasts of France.



Species encyclopedia

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