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Sea of Cortez 810

Family Serranidae
Groupers and Sea Basses
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned)
Order: Perciformes

Key Features:
Although broadly characterized as large to massive fish, most groupers are actually relatively small.  This is a characteristic carried over to the Sea of Cortez species.  While several of the mammoth species are present including those from the genus Epinephelus which can reach a length of eight feet and grow up to seven hundred pounds.  The majority are less than two feet in length.  Lacking few distinguishing characteristics, groupers and sea basses are broad ranging and highly generalized predators, similar to the snappers (Lutjanidae). 

Among the distinguishing features of groupers, serranids show a complete lateral line, three spines on the opercle with serrated pre-opercle, well-developed scales, and a caudal fin that is usually rounded.  They most closely resemble snappers and grunts, but may be differentiated from each of these families by examining the maxillary bone of the upper jaw, which slips under the cheekbone in snappers and grunts, but not in groupers. 

There is tremendous diversity in the groupers and sea basses of the Sea of Cortez.  Worldwide, there are 62 genera containing about 450 species.  There are 38 species in the Sea of Cortez.    

Notable Species in the Sea of Cortez

Paralabrax maculatofasciatus
Spotted Sand Bass
Paralabrax auroguttatus
Goldspotted Sand Bass
Paralabrax loro
Parrot Sand Bass
Serranus psittacinus
Barred Serrano
Alphestes immaculatus
Pacific Mutton Hamlet
Dermatolepis dermatolepis
Leather Bass
Cephalopholis panamensis
Panama Grasby
Epinephelus acanthistius
Gulf Coney
Epinephelus itajara
Epinephelus labriformis
Flag Cabrilla
Epinephelus analogus
Spotted Cabrilla
Mycteroperca jordani
Gulf Grouper
Mycteroperca rosacea
Leopard (Golden) Grouper
Mycteroperca xenarcha
Broomtail Grouper
Paranthias colonus
Pacific Creolefish
Rypticus bicolor
Mottled Soapfish
Rypticus nigripinnis
Twice-Spotted Soapfish

Alphestes immaculatus - Pacific muton hamlet, Sonora, Mexico, Sea of Cortez

Alphestes immaculatus
Pacific Mutton Hamlet

Isla San Pedro Nolasco
San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico


panama grasby cephalopholis, a grouper from the sea of cortez

Cephalopholis panamensis
Panama Grasby

Isla Tortuga
Baja, Mexico


San Carlos Scuba Diving

Baja News and Views for Scuba Divers




Updated August 28, 2009

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