Flag Cabrilla

Flag Cabrilla, Epinephelus labriformus

The Flag Cabrilla, Epinephelus labriformis, whose common Spanish name is cabrilla piedrera and who is known locally as cabrilla, is a species in the Grouper or Epinephelidae Family, known collectively as cabrillas and garropas in Mexico. Globally, there are one hundred species in the genus Epinephelus, eleven of which are found in Mexican waters, six in the Atlantic and five in the Pacific.

The Flag Cabrillas have reddish-brown robust compressed bodies that are covered with white spots and blotches of irregular sizes. They have eleven dorsal spines and all their soft fins have red margins. Their anal and caudal fins are rounded. They have a characteristic black saddle on the upper part of their caudal fin base.

The Flag Cabrillas are found over rocky bottoms at depths up to 100 feet. They reach a maximum length of 52 cm (20.5 inches) and weight of 1 kg (2.2 pounds). They are solitary predators and feed primarily on crustaceans at night and on small fish during the day. They are a relatively small, plentiful, shallow water species and little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Flag Cabrilla are found in all waters of the Pacific and are most abundant in the upper Gulf.

The Flag Cabrilla is very easy to identify due to its body shape and coloration with the exception that it is very similar in size, shape, and habitat and easily confused with the Clipperton Grouper, Epinephelus clippertonensis (lacks mid-body spotting and prominent black spot on upper part of caudal fin base).

The Flag Cabrillas are abundant in the greater Los Cabos area during colder water periods and are easy to catch. They are also accessible from the beach. The larger specimens are considered an excellent food fish.

Flag Cabrilla, Juvenile, Epinephelus labriformis: Fish caught out off the beach at Buena Vista, Baja California Sur, March 2010, on cut squid utilizing a Carolina rig Sabiki rig. Size: 10 cm (3.9 inches).Flag Cabrilla, Epinephelus labriformis, Juvenile. Fish caught from shore at Buena Vista, Baja California Sur, March 2010. Length: 10 cm (3.9 inches).

Flag Cabrilla, Epinephelus labriformis. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, January 2011. Length: 25 cm (10 inches).

Flag Cabrilla, Epinephelus labriformis, deformed. Fish caught from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, January 2011. Length: 28 cm (11 inches). One of two caught in same morning with a similar deformity. Discussions with H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, indicate that these types of deformities are caused by an attack by a predator