Spotted Cabrilla, Epinephelus analogus
The Spotted Cabrilla, Epinephelus analogus, whose common Spanish name is cabrilla pinta, 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 Spotted Cabrillas have pale, tan to grayish-white, elongated, and robust bodies covered with numerous circular brown spots that are smaller on their head and fins; they have four indistinct dark bars on the upper half of their sides. They have 11 dorsal spines and 8 pectoral rays, which are keys to identification. Their caudal fin is rounded.
The Spotted Cabrillas are found both in rocky reefs and in shallow estuaries at depths up to 350 feet. They reach a maximum of 1.14 meters (3 feet 9 inches) in length and 22.3 kg (49 pounds) in weight. They are voracious predators feeding on crustaceans at night and small fish during the day.
In Mexican waters the Spotted Cabrilla are found in all waters of the Pacific.
The Spotted Cabrilla can be confused with the juvenile Pacific Goliath Grouper, Epinephelus quinquefasciatus (ten dorsal spines).
The Spotted Cabrillas are an excellent food fish and in high demand. This has resulted in decades of extensive overfishing, primarily in the central Sea of Cortez. Due to their slow reproductive and growth rates, they have virtually disappeared.
Spotted Cabrilla, Epinephelus analogus. Fish caught from coastal waters off San Felipe, Baja California, May 2014. Length: 35 cm (14 inches). Photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Loreto, Baja California Sur.