Spinycheek grouper (Epinephelus diacanthus)
|Also known as:||Thornycheek grouper|
|Synonyms:||Epinephelus dayi, Serranus diacanthus|
Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).
As its name suggests, the spinycheek grouper has one to five, prominent spines on its cheek, in front of the gills. Like other groupers, it is a robust fish, with a spiny dorsal fin and a rounded caudal fin. Its body is typically pale greyish brown, with five, dark, vertical bands, which are broader than the lighter bars in-between. The undersurface of the head and body is often pinkish or red (2) (3).
The spinycheek grouper is found on the continental shelf of the northern Indian Ocean from the Gulf of Aden to Sri Lanka and Chennai (India), but is not known from either the Red Sea or the Arabian Gulf (1) (2).
Occurs mainly over mud or sandy-mud bottoms from depths of 10 to 120 metres (1) (2).
The spinycheek grouper is a predatory fish, feeding on a variety of fish and crustaceans including crabs and small prawns. For the first eight months, juveniles congregate and feed in the waters of the midshelf, but later migrate into deeper water to complete their development and eventually breed (1). Although little is known about the reproductive biology of the spinycheek grouper, like other Epinephelus species, it is probably a protogynous hermaphrodite, meaning that individuals begin mature life as female and change sex later to become male (2) (4).
The global population of spinycheek grouper is thought to be declining over much of its range as result of the expansion of trawl fisheries into increasingly deeper waters and the overexploitation of juveniles in shallow waters (1).
As of yet, there are no specific conservation measures in place for the spinycheek grouper. However, several recommendations have been made for the management of this species including the protection of critical habitat and the instalment of satellite tracking devices on trawlers to monitor fishing activity (1).
For further information on the conservation of groupers see:
Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group:
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- Caudal fin: The tail fin of a fish.
- Crustaceans: Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
- Dorsal fin: The unpaired fin found on the back of the body of fish, or the raised structure on the back of most cetaceans.
- Protogynous hermaphrodite: An animal that begins its life cycle as a female. As the animal ages, based on internal or external triggers, it shifts sex to become a male animal.
IUCN Red List (April, 2009)
- Heemstra, P.C. and Randall, J.E. (1993) FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 16: Groupers of the World. Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome.
- Polovina, J.J. and Ralston, S. (1987) Tropical snappers and groupers: biology and fisheries management. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
- Randall, J.E. (1994) Coastal fishes of Oman. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.