Mycteroperca interstitialis 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Actinopterygii Perciformes Epinephelidae

Scientific Name: Mycteroperca interstitialis
Species Authority: (Poey, 1860)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Yellowmouth Grouper, Hamlet, Harlequin Rockfish, Princess Rockfish, Rockfish, Salmon Grouper, Salmon Rock Fish, Scamp, Crossband Rockfish, Grey Mannock
Spanish Abadejo, Abadejo Salmon, Bacalao, Badejo, Badejo-amarelo, Blake, Cherna Boca Amarilla, Cuna Amarilla, Cuna Chulinga, Cuna Raba Rajao, Mero
French Badeche Gueule Jaune
Labrus gvaza Linneaus, 1758
Mycteroperca calliura Poey, 1865
Mycteroperca dimidiata (Poey, 1860)
Mycteroperca falcata (Poey, 1860)
Mycteroperca roquensis Martín Salazar, 1956
Serranus dimidiatus Poey, 1860
Serranus falcatus Poey, 1860
Serranus interstitialis Poey, 1860
Trisotropis chlorostomus Poey, 1867

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2d+3d ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-01-01
Assessor(s): Rocha, L., Ferreira, B., Choat, J.H., Craig, M. & Sadovy, Y.
Reviewer(s): Sadovy, Y. & Moss, K. (Grouper and Wrasse Red List Authority)
Mycteroperca interstitialis is listed as Vulnerable (VU) because of inferred declines for this naturally rare species of at least 30% in the past 3 generations (generation length is at least 10 years). These declines are expected to continue in the future as inferred from fishery data. Additionally, the species has life history characteristics that make this species more vulnerable to overfishing (long lived, protogynous).
Previously published Red List assessments:
2007 Vulnerable (VU)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:General
Mycteroperca interstitialis is distributed in the western Atlantic from Florida (USA) and Bermuda to southern Brazil, including the Brazilian off-shore islands, the southern Gulf of Mexico, Florida Keys, Bahamas, Cuba and throughout the Caribbean.

Anguilla, Antigua and Bermuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil (Alagoas, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, Sergipe, Trindade), Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, México (Campeche, Quintana Rôo, Tabasco, Veracruz, Yucatán), Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao), Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States of America (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi), British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.
Countries occurrence:
Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Brazil; Cayman Islands; Colombia; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Mexico; Montserrat; Puerto Rico; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – southwest
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Mycteroperca interstitialis is a naturally uncommon species throughout its range. Signs of decline (at least 30%) in all of its range is inferred from fishery data.

The species has been classified as vulnerable in the US, since it has low productivity and is vulnerable to overfishing ( Extirpation is possible for this uncommon species, since it is taken along with similar yet more abundant and more persistent species, such as scamp (M. phenax) (Musick et al. 2000) and M. bonaci (Ferreira et al. 1998).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:General
Mycteroperca interstitialis is reef-associated and found mainly on rocky or coral bottoms from the shoreline to at least 55 m depth (Smith 1978). Small and medium-sized individuals commonly occur in mangrove-lined lagoons. More common in island waters than along the coast.

The species is reported to have slow growth, long life spans, and presumed low natural mortality rates that likely increases their susceptibility to overfishing (Manickchand-Heileman and Phillip 2000), as with many of its congeners with similar life histories.

M. interstitialis feeds on fishes.

Sex-reversal has been reported for the species. The species is a pelagic spawner.

The tri-colored pattern of the juveniles mimics that of the juveniles of the clown wrasse, Halichoeres maculipinna. The aggressive mimics behavior includes folding down the median and caudal fins, which adds to its wrasse imitation and allows it to approach its otherwise wary prey.
Generation Length (years):>10years

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): General
Mycteroperca interstitialis is targeted by fisheries in some areas, but its rarity prevents it from becoming a major target species. In areas where fisheries are developed, rapid population declines have been noted. Mycteroperca interstitialis is apparently tolerant to habitat loss.

In the Caribbean, Mycteroperca interstitialis is caught with hook-and-line, traps and spear (Heemstra and Randall 1993) and is of significant commercial value in Venezuela (Smith 1971; Gonzalez and Celaya 1986; cited in Manickchand-Heilmand and Phillip 2000). The yellowmouth grouper is also commercially exploited in Bermuda (Smith 1971) and the eastern Gulf of Mexico (Bullock and Murphy 1994). In Honduras, large grouper species (e.g. E. striatus, Mycteroperca spp.) are caught in all areas but with different techniques, whereas in Utila, they are predominantly caught with handlines. Smaller individuals are caught elsewhere in larger proportions with spearguns, nets, and sometimes traps (Gobert et al. 2005).

Fishery dependent data
In the 1980s, a rapid development of trap fishing on shallow water grouper populations in Bermuda led to a seven year decline in grouper catches from 40,000 to 10,000 pounds per year (Bannerot et al. 1987).

Historically, Mycteroperca interstitialis has been fished on the continental shelf and shelf edge northwest of Tobago and along the north and northeastern coasts of Trinidad by artisanal vessels from Trinidad and Tobago, as well as from Venezuela (Mendoza and Larez 2004). Declines in catch rates have been reported in these areas (Manickchand-Heileman and Phillip 2000, Mendoza and Larez 2004).

In Brazil a sharp decline was observed in the grouper fishery in the Abrolhos bank (Mycteroperca spp). The present CPUE (1.4 kg per fisher-day) is considerably lower than in the late 1970s (12 kg per fisher-day) (Costa et al. 2003).

Fishery independent data
In Brazil, Mycteroperca interstitialis is recorded in the landings under the same category as other Mycteroperca species. Ferreira et al. (1998) estimated that Mycteroperca interstitialis represented 3% of the total Mycteroperca catches in the northeast (M. bonaci is the main species with 88%), while Costa (unpub. data) estimates it represents 1.36% of the total Mycteroperca landings in the central coast of Brazil. During four research cruises of the Revizee Program between 1996 and 1998, 190,746 hooks were deployed in depths between 100 and 500 m in four areas distributed in the Abrolhos to Vitoria region (12° to 22° S). A catch-per-unit-effort of 0.2 to 2.1 kg per 1,000 hooks was estimated for this species that included 1.4 kg per 1000 hook in depths above 100 m and 0.3 kg per 1,000 hook in areas between 100 and 300 m.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Mycteroperca interstitialis occurs in several marine protected areas throughout its range. In areas not protected, harvest management is needed.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.2. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
suitability: Suitable  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.2. Intentional use: (large scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Ault, J., Bohnsack, J. and Meester, G. 1998. A retrospective (1979-1996) multispecies assessment of coral reef fish stocks in the Florida Keys. Fishery Bulletin 96(3): 395-414.

Bannerot S.P., Fox W.W. Jr and Powers J.E. 1987. Reproductive strategies and the management of snappers and groupers in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. In: Tropical snappers and groupers: biology and fisheries management.

Bullock, L.H. and Murphy, M.D. 1994. Aspects of the life history of the yellowmouth grouper, Mycteroperca interstitialis, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Costa, P.A.S., Braga, A.C. and Frota L.O. 2003. Reef fisheries in Porto Seguro, eastern Brazilian coast.

Ferreira, B.P, Cava, F.and Ferraz, A.N. 1998. Relacoes morphometricas en piexes recifais na Zona Economica Exclusiva.

Gobert, B., Berthou, P., Lopez, E., Lespagno, P.,Turcios, M., Macabiau, C. and Portillo, P. 2005. Early stages of snapper–grouper exploitation in the Caribbean (Bay Islands, Honduras).

Gonzalez, L.W. and Celaya, J. 1986. Diagnostico socio-economico de la pesqueria de media altura pargo-mero del estado Nueva Esparta Investigaciones Cientifi cas, Univ. Oriente, Venezuela.

Huntsman, G.R., Potts, J., Mays, R.W. and Vaughan, D. 1999. Groupers (Serranidae, Ephinephelinae): endangered apex predators of reef communities.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Manickchand-Heilman, S.C. and Philip, D.A.T. 2000. Age and growth of the yellowedge grouper, Epinephelus flavolimbatus, and the yellowmouth grouper, Mycteroperca interstitialis, off Trinidad and Tobago.

Mendoza, J.J. and Larez, A. 2004. Abundance and distribution of snappers and groupers targeted by the artisanal, medium-range fishery off northeastern Venezuela.

Smith, C.L. 1971. A revision of the American groupers: Epinephelus and allied genera..

Smith, C.L. 1978. Serranidae.

Citation: Rocha, L., Ferreira, B., Choat, J.H., Craig, M. & Sadovy, Y. 2008. Mycteroperca interstitialis. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T64410A12778677. . Downloaded on 26 November 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided