24 Août 2012
The marbled grouper (Epinephelus polyphekadion) is a solitary fish commonly referred as the hapu’u in the Maori language. It is easily recognizable by its brown colored “camouflage stripes” with many white and beige flecks. The marbled grouper has a stocky body that can measure 3 fts. It is one of the largest species of grouper.
The hapu’u is very abundant in French Polynesia especially in the Tuamotu Archipelago. In contrast you are unlikely to see marbled groupers in the Society Islands. It can also be observed around the world in the Indian Ocean and in the Red Sea.
The marbled grouper lives in lagoons or oceanic slopes in deeper water of up to 160 ft. It is a carnivorous species ; its diet is made up of fish, crustaceans and sometimes octopus. It is a real specialist in camouflage and stays hidden on the reef for hours to take its preys by surprise. The hapu’u strikes at lightning speed on its unsuspecting victims who do not realize anything.
Like other groupers the marbled grouper may live up to 20 years. Moreover Polynesian legislation prohibits the sale and consumption of this fish because of the high risk of ciguatera intoxication associated with it.
Mating season is quite a spectacle. One can witness an incredible gathering of marbled groupers in passes of French Polynesia during the mating season (June). This mating season is a much awaited event by all sea lovers and researchers.
The marbled groupers are usually easy to approach. In French Polynesia you will have the chance of encountering them on the dive sites of Rangiroa and Fakarava.
© S.Girardot / V.Truchet