- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
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.
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 non-migratory spawners, meaning they reproduce in the same waters they inhabit year-round. Spawning occurs from January through June in most the yellowfin grouper's range. Eggs are scattered and fertilized in the open water and the ocean floor, and are not guarded.
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.
Considered among the most beautiful of the groupers, are a popular, hard-fighting bottom fish. They are usually caught by fishing around deep coral heads with live or dead bait and some artificial lures, such as jigs and jigging spoons. They are strong fighters that, like most grouper, often attempt to wedge themselves among deep rocks as soon as they are hooked.
Yellowfin grouper are considered excellent eating, especially the smaller ones, but there have been reports of ciguatera poisoning in some parts of the West Indies, especially the Virgin Islands. Ciguatera is a toxin originating in certain types of algae that colonize coral reefs. The toxin moves up the food chain and accumulates in the flesh of the top carnivores. However, even large specimens of yellowfin grouper are usually considered safe for commercial sale, as long as they are taken from safe areas.
- 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.