Epinephelus marginatus

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Dusky grouper
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Serranidae
Genus: Epinephelus
Species: E. marginatus
Binomial name
Epinephelus marginatus
(Lowe, 1834)

Epinephelus guaza (Jordan & Evermann, 1896)

Epinephelus marginatus (dusky grouper, merou) is the best known grouper of the Mediterranean Sea and North Africa coast.


The dusky grouper has a big body with a big mouth. One long dorsal fin and a rounded tail. Its color varies from brown to green depending on the season and the age. It is green during its juvenile phase. The adult is upper brown with yellow spots and lower yellow. On the operculum there are three spines.

Epinephelus marginatus in the Mediterranean


The dusky grouper is a solitary fish. It likes to live alone in rocks, at depths from the coast to 300 meters, but it's rare to find it below 60 meters. It has a barometric distribution, where the younger specimens are found near the coast and the older ones at the depths.

It normally has one cave considered as home and several other caves as temporary refuges. Its home has a minimum of two exits, and a size slightly bigger than the grouper, so no bigger animal can enter in. In case of biting attack or other force to extract it, the grouper opens its mouth, and the operculum spines wedge it inside the cave.

It can be found in the Mediterranean, the African west coast (Azores, Canary Islands) and the coast of Brazil. It is rare in the waters of the western Indian Ocean, Uruguay, Argentina, north of France and the British Isles.


It is a protogynous hermaphrodite, i.e. the young are predominantly female but transform into males as they grow larger. Reproduction normally takes place between the summer months.


It feeds mainly on other fish, crabs and octopus. It is very greedy and one of the major predators in the Mediterranean sea.

Dusky Grouper.JPG


In some countries the dusky grouper is considered a delicacy. Referring to its preference among restaurant guests, the Spanish say 'De la mar el mero y de la tierra el carnero' (From the sea the dusky grouper, from the land the lamb).

Due to overfishing, it is now considered an endangered species.


It normally grows to lengths of between 50 and 100 cm, and between 3 and 10 kg. But it is not rare to find exemplars of more than 40 kg. It can grow up to 150 centimeters in length and 60 kilograms in weight.