Blue Groper

Image by Richard Ling.

The word “groper” comes from the word for the fish, most widely believed to be from the Portuguese name, ‘garoupa’.

Gropers are teleosts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They are not built for long-distance or fast swimming. They can be quite large with lengths over a meter and weights up to 100kg not uncommon; though obviously in such a large group, species vary considerably.

They swallow prey rather than biting pieces off it. They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they do have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopus, crab, and lobster.

Most fish spawn between May and August. The young are predominantly female but transform into males as they grow larger. They grow about a kilogram per year. Generally they are adolescent until they reach three kilograms, when they become female. At about 10 to 12kg they turn to male. Usually, males have a harem of three to fifteen females in the broader region. In the rare case that no male exists close by, the largest female turns faster.