Broomtail Grouper

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha

The Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha, whose common Spanish name is cabrilla plomuda, is a species in the Grouper or Epinephelidae Family, known collectively as cabrillas and garropas in Mexico. Globally, there are fifteen species in the genus Mycteroperca, eleven of which are found in Mexican waters, seven in the Atlantic and four in the Pacific.

The Broomtail Groupers have elongated, robust, and compressed bodies that are light-brown in color and feature elongated dark brown blotches with white centers (giving the appearance of “lipstick kiss marks”). They have a projecting lower jaw with prominent canine teeth and their gill covers are notched and strongly serrated. Their second to seventh dorsal spines are of equal length, a key to identification. Their caudal fin has a jagged rear edge; its common name is derived from this characteristic feature.

The Broomtail Groupers are found in reefs, rocky areas, and mangrove estuaries at depths up to 225 feet. They reach a maximum length of 1.50 meters (4 feet 11 inches) and weigh up to 45.4 kg (100 pounds). A Grouper Family Weight From Length Conversion Table has been included in this website to allow the accurate determination of a fish weight and a return to the ocean unharmed. Although widespread, they are not abundant and little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Broomtail Groupers are found in all waters of the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from of the northern third of the Sea of Cortez.

The Broomtail Grouper is most likely confused with the Gulf Grouper, Mycteroperca jordani (fourth and fifth dorsal spines being the longest) and the Goldspotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax auroguttatus (very long third dorsal spine).

The Broomtail Groupers are important fish in the Sea of Cortez. They are considered an excellent food fish, are sold commercially, and are a prime target of the sports fishing industry. From a conservation perspective the Broomtail Groupers are currently considered to be of Least Concern, however, population trends are unknown and we are absolutely certain that this perspective will change in the near future. From our experience this species has virtually disappeared. They are a fully protected species in California.

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xanarcha, juvenile. Fish caught from coastal waters off Estero de Coyote, Baja California Sur, May 2016. Length: 39 cm (15 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Fullerton, CA.

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca prionura. Fish caught from coastal waters off Puerto Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, July 2009. Length: 1.25 meters  (4 feet 1 inch). Weight: 30 kg (65 pounds). Catch courtesy of Eduardo Correa, Mexico City, Mexico.

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha, tail, from which it derives its common name.

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xenarcha. Fish caught from coastal waters off La Bocana, Baja California Sur, October 2015. Length: 49 cm (23 inches). Weight: 1.9 kg (4.2 pounds). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Identification reconfirmed by Dr. Matt Craig, San Diego, CA.

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xanarcha. Fish caught from coastal waters off Abreojos, Baja California Sur, May 2016. Length: 78 cm (31 inches). Weight: 8 kg (17 pounds). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Fullerton, CA.

Broomtail Grouper, Mycteroperca xanarcha. Fish caught from coast waters off Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, June 2017. Length: 1.48 meters (4 feet 10 inches). Weight: 52 kg (113 pounds). Catch and photo courtesy of Jimmy Camacho, Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur.