Epinephelus spilotoceps 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Epinephelus spilotoceps Schultz, 1953
Common Name(s):
English Foursaddle Grouper, Four-saddle Grouper, Spotty Cod
French Merou Quatre Selles
Spanish Mero Quatro Monturas
Epinephelus salonotus Smith and Smith, 1963
Epinephelus spiloteceps Schultz, 1953
Epinephelus spilotoceps Schultz, 1953
Taxonomic Notes: This is one of nine species of related shallow water coral reef-associated "reticulated groupers", the primary differences between which are discussed in the account of E. spilotoceps in Heemstra and Randall (1993). These have apparently often been confused in the literature, and many specimens of them have been misidentified in museum collections.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Pollard, D., Choat, J.H., Sadovy, Y., Craig, M. & Bertoncini, A.A.
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Moss, K. (Grouper and Wrasse Red List Authority)
Epinephelus spilotoceps is assessed as being of Least Concern primarily because of its very widespread distribution throughout the islands of the tropical Indo-West Pacific region, and the fact that it is a small species (max TL ~35 cm) and therefore probably not particularly sought after as a food fish. The exception here is in the Maldives live food fish trade, where it is one of the species taken, though not one of the top ten grouper species in this fishery. Elsewhere it is probably caught in local artisinal and subsistence fisheries.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:General
Epinephelus spilotoceps has a widespread, primarily insular, tropical Indo-West Pacific distribution.

Central East African coast (Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique); Madagascar and all main tropical Western Indian Ocean Islands including Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles, Chagos; Maldives; Laccadives, Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India); and other islands throughout the tropical Indian Ocean, and off southern Myanmar, western Thailand and Malaysia, Indonesia, southern Philippines (?), northern Papua New Guinea, Rowley Shoals to Scott Reef (off NW Western Australia), GBR and Coral Sea off northeast Australia and eastwards across the Western Pacific Ocean via Micronesia and Polynesia to the Line Islands. Except for its occurrence along the East African coast, it seems to be a primarily insular species, probably occurring around most or all of the islands of the tropical Indian and Western Pacific Oceans.

* Contrary to Heemstra and Randall (1993), this species does occur around the coral reefs and islands of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea off NE Australia (Zool. Cat. Aust., Vol 35, Fishes);
Countries occurrence:
American Samoa; Australia; British Indian Ocean Territory; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Comoros; Cook Islands; Fiji; India; Indonesia; Kenya; Kiribati; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Mayotte; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; RĂ©union; Samoa; Seychelles; Solomon Islands; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Vanuatu; Wallis and Futuna
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – western; Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):30
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Epinephelus spilotoceps is apparently relatively common throughout most of its range. Its population trend unknown, but is probably relatively stable.

Fisheries-dependent data
Epinephelus spilotoeps represented 13.1% of the serranid catch by all combined gear types in Pohnpei in 2006 (Rhodes and Tupper 2007). It was the third most common grouper overall.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:General
Epinephelus spilotoceps is a shallow water species (down to ~30 m depth) in insular coral reefs, where it occurs over lagoonal patch reefs, the upper slopes of channels, and reef margins (Heemstra and Randall 1993).

In the Maldives, where it was one of the more common species observed during underwater visual census, it occurs primarily on rubble patches, mainly near their edges and adjacent to areas of high coral relief rather than out in the open (Sluka and Reichenbach 1996). Almost nothing is known about its biology, though it grows to a maximum total length of ~35 cm.

In Pohnpei, the species was captured primarily by spear on the outer reef, although there was little difference in the percentage of the species captured between out and inner reef locales (Rhodes and Tupper 2007).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): General
Epinephelus spilotoceps does not appear to be threatened by overfishing, although the live food fish trade could pose a threat in the future, particularly if spawning aggregations are targeted.

In the Maldives this species is captured in the live food fish trade, in which it is a common but not particularly important species. In this fishery it has a (nominal) annual export quota of 8000 individuals (Shakeel and Ahmed 1996, Sattar and Adam 2005). It is also listed as a "regulated species" in the Fisheries (Coral Reef Fin Fish) Management Plan 2003 of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries (Australia), though it is considered to be relatively insignificant in this primarily Great Barrier Reef line fishery ( It is no doubt also caught in local artisinal and subsistence fisheries throughout most or all of its range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Epinephelus spilotoceps occurs in marine protected areas throughout its range, but there are no known measures specific to foursaddle grouper.

Citation: Pollard, D., Choat, J.H., Sadovy, Y., Craig, M. & Bertoncini, A.A. 2008. Epinephelus spilotoceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T132747A3439923. . Downloaded on 24 October 2017.
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