Mexico,  Mexico

The wildlife of the Riviera Maya XVIII

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Mero

Scientific: Epinephelus morio Valenciennes
Maaya t’aan: Hu’un kay
English: Red grouper

Description: This is a large fish, with six-year-old adults reaching 50 cm. (around 20 inches). They can live as long as 25 years, attaining lengths of 1.25 meters (four feet). They are reddish brown in color, with many small white spots. The fins are dark brown.

Habitat: Depending upon age and gender, they can be found in all nearby marine zones, from inshore sea grass beds (juveniles), to the reefs, to extreme depths—up to 300 meters (about 985 feet)—where there are sandy bottoms.

Threats: Overfishing, and the destruction of reefs, upon which they depend for finding food. The red grouper is the grouper species most favored locally as food. Its presence here has decreased significantly, and in other regions of the Caribbean overfishing is seriously threatening the survival of local populations.

Uses and beliefs: Due to the quality of its flesh, its large size, its relative abundance, and the ease with which it is captured, this species is a popular target of industrial, artisanal and recreational fishing, and is in high demand locally.

How to protect it: Avoid its capture and purchase during the annual ban period, from February 15 to March 15. Do not fish for it in designated protected areas; with unapproved equipment, especially nets; or if it is below the legally established minimum length of 36.3 cm. (under 14.3 inches).

Where to observe it: Isolated individuals can be seen in various areas

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