Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage

Epinephelus melanostigma

Blackspot Grouper

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Open this image in pop-up window Image: Adult specimen (Mangaia) 53KB

General Information

COMMON NAMES: Blackspot Grouper, Blackspot Honeycomb Grouper, One Blotch Grouper, One Blotch Rock Cod; French Mérou Dossard, Loche Ponctuée

GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION: NATIVE e.Africa - Samoa - Cooks; n. to s.Japan; s. to ?

COOK ISLANDS STATUS: Native; PLUS: Rakahanga lagoon (Sims); Marine, near-shore

KEY FEATURES: A small "honeycomb" grouper, to 30cm SL. Thickset (depth 3 in SL), tail round. Close-set large dark polygons with interspaces forming narrow pale lines; similarly on all fins and tail; spots on throat widely spaced; prominent dark blotch as base of last four dorsal-fin spines; all fins and tail with white margins. Dorsal spines XI, upper jaw to a pupil-Ø beyond eye hind-edge; Tail-base stocky, height greater than 2nd Anal-fin spine length. Gill rakers 7-10 + 16-19; lower jaw mid-side teeth in 3-5 rows.

SIMILAR SPECIES: See under Hexagon Grouper (Epinephelus hexagonatus). Most similar to Foursaddle Grouper and Greasy Grouper. Foursaddle Grouper (Epinephelus spilotoceps) has 3-4 dark dorsal botches + one on tail-base (vs one + none); ~5 faint dark diagonal bars (vs no bars); 3-4 irregular rows on small pots on front upper lip (vs 1-2 rows); tail-base slender with height less than 2nd anal-fin spine length (vs longer). Greasy Grouper (Epinephelus tauvina) has polygons with wide pale interspaces, but close-set on all fins and tail; 4 dorsal blotches + 1 on tail-base; 5 faint diagonal bars (vs no bars); upper jaw to an eye-Ø behind rear of eye (vs less than 50% of eye-Ø).

Enlarged Image of 'Epinephelus melanostigma'

Cook Islands Distribution

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Southern Group: Present    Makatea:

Northern Group: Present

Key to Symbols

Scientific Taxonomy

Epinephelus melanostigma Schultz, 1953
TAXONOMY: ANIMALIA; CHORDATA; GNATHOSTOMATA (Jawed Vertebrates); PISCES; OSTEICHTHYES; Perciformes; Percoidei; Percoidea; SERRANIDAE, Epinephelinae

Vouchers & References

Cooks: Heemstra & Randall 1993, FAO Fish. Synops. #125, Vol.16. Mangaia: Teanaturaºa Tawaºena Dist., lagoon-pool near shore, CAS61774 (DSM58); specimen+photo, NBSAP-College, 9/2000, ID GMcC. Tongareva: ANSP161249. <>RH- field ID lagoon Sims, this sp. or E. maculatus (Sims88). Pukapuka: informant reports at NBSAP meeting, 2/2004.

Special Reference: Heemstra & Randall 1993, FAO Fish. Synops. #125, Vol.16:189-90, plate XVIII-C.

text p.108 Myers (1991 2nd Ed.) Fishes of Micronesia
plate p107h Myers (1991 2nd Ed.) Fishes of Micronesia
p.189- Burgess et al. (1988) Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes (TFH)
plate 28-04 Lieske & Myers (1996) Coral Reef Fishes

Data Update History (information):
zTX, zB02, zM02, zupM06a, zD02

Web Resources

Citation Information

McCormack, Gerald (2007) Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007.2. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, Rarotonga. Online at Copy citation to system clipboard
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