- Although the flesh of the almaco jack is considered quality table fare, the species has been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a seldom fatal stomach irritation.
- The almaco jack is susceptible to tapeworm parasites in the caudal peduncle area, but the meat can be eaten safely if affected portions are cut away.
Yellowfin grouper (Mycteroperca)
The coloration of the yellowfin grouper is highly variable, given their different color phases and ability to rapidly change color and shade to blend with their environment. The body is pale with elongated blotches that are usually olive green or red but which can also be black, gray or brown. The blotches are rimmed with smaller dark dots. The outer edges of the pectoral fins are bright yellow, which gives the fish its name and distinguishes them from similar species such as the black grouper. Yellow may also be visible on the first dorsal and pelvic fins. The second dorsal, pelvic, anal and tail fin have black edges. In waters deeper than 100 feet, yellowfin grouper usually have a light red background with dark red blotches, especially on the inner parts of the fins.
The body of the yellowfin grouper is proportioned like most grouper: tapered at both ends, somewhat like a football. The first dorsal fin, with 11 spines, is connected to the second dorsal fin, with 15 to 16 rays. The anal fin has 3 spines and 10 to 12 rays. The pectoral fins have 16 to 18 rays. The back edge of the tail fin is slightly concave.
Opportunistic carnivores, this grouper hides in structure until their prey approaches. The prey is ambushed, and then the yellowfin grouper quickly retreats to a hidden location. Their diet consists mostly of fish and squid, but they eat crustaceans as well.
Yellowfin grouper inhabit the western Atlantic from North Carolina south to Sao Paulo, Brazil, including Bermuda, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They are most common in Bermuda, the Bahamas, southern Florida and the southern Gulf of Mexico.
Juveniles occur in shallow turtle grass beds at depths as shallow as 7 feet, but adults inhabit much deeper water and habitat. Residing offshore on rocky bottoms and coral heads at depths up to 450 feet, yellowfin grouper prefer water temperatures of 80 to 83 F. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, they can be found over deep mud bottoms.
- Yellowfin grouper are frequently displayed in show aquariums.
- The scientific name of the yellowfin, Mycteroperca venenosa, means venomous, a reference to its association with ciguatera poisoning. Although other grouper have been implicated in such poisonings, yellowfin grouper may be responsible for more cases.
- Large-bodied, slow growing, late maturing species like the yellowfin grouper are susceptible to over-fishing.
- Usually, the most brightly colored yellowfin grouper are those weighing 3 to 10 pounds.