[Coral-List] non-native (Indo-Pacific) groupers in the southern Caribbean?

mtupper mtupper at coastal-resources.org
Tue Feb 19 19:54:45 EST 2013

Dear Listers,

Apologies for cross-postings. I spent the past 2 days in meetings with the
Fisheries Department in Georgetown, Guyana. I was perusing some of the posters
on their wall depicting Guayana's fish and fisheries when to my surprise the
"Deep-Slope Snapper-Grouper Complex" poster included photos and correct names of
Epinephelus polyphekadion (camouflage grouper) and Plectropomus laevis
(blacksaddled or giant coralgrouper). I know both species well after a  couple
of years tagging groupers in Palau. The pictures were definitely of the species
named. I asked one of the Fisheries Officers if the pictures had been taken
locally or from a book. He replied that he wasn't sure because the poster was
quite old, but he had seen fishes looking very similar landed in the deep slope
catch. When pressed he couldn't say for sure if they were exactly the same

I am 99.5% sure that these are misidentifications and the photos were taken
somewhere in the western Pacific, then somehow got transferred to a Guyanese
fisheries poster. However, as we are currently in the midst of developing
fisheries management plans for the snapper-grouper complex in Guyana, Suriname
and Trinidad & Tobago, I want to be 100% sure that these fish have not been
introduced. If they have somehow established themselves in the southern
Caribbean, it would be interesting both as another biological invasion to study,
and for the fact that these two species are natural predators of lionfish, which
have recently reached the southern Caribbean.

I can't imagine how these two Indo-Pacific grouper species would be transferred
to the southern Caribbean, as they aren't popular aquarium species like lionfish
or Cromileptes groupers, and reef aquaria are probably nonexistent in this area
anyway. There are a lot of Asian boats fishing the outer slope, so perhaps
larvae transferred in ballast water?

So, the question is, has anyone on the list(s) ever heard of either E.
polyphekadion or P. laevis being caught in the southern Caribbean or North
Brazil Shelf region? I'm guessing the answer is no, but stranger things have
happened. Alternatively, can somebody think of any deep-water grouper species in
the North Brazil Shelf area that look very similar to either E. polyphekadion or
P. laevis, and thus might have been misidentified? Neither species looks much
like the commonly landed red grouper, yellowmouth grouper or yellowedge grouper.


Dr. Mark Tupper
Coastal Resources Association
207-10822 City Parkway, Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 0C2
Email: mtupper at coastal-resources.org
Tel. 1-604-588-1674; Mobile: 1-604-961-2022

Philippines Office:
Poblacion, Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines 9103
Tel. +63-906-568-3653

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