Gracila albomarginata (Fowler & Bean, 1930)
Masked grouper
Lapu-lapu,  Lapu-lapu
Gracila albomarginata
photo by Randall, J.E.

Family:  Serranidae (Sea basses: groupers and fairy basslets), subfamily: Epinephelinae
Max. size:  40 cm TL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  reef-associated; depth range 6 - 120 m
Distribution:  Indo-Pacific: northern Mozambique to French Polynesia, north to Okinawa, south to the northern Great Barrier Reef. Unknown from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Recorded from Europa Island (MNHN 1992-0983, Ref. 33390).
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 9-9; Dorsal soft rays (total): 14-16; Anal spines: 3-3; Anal soft rays: 9-10. Readily identified by the white square on their sides, blue in natural light (Ref. 48635). Differs from all shallow water Micronesian Cephalopholis except C. polleni by having truncate tail (Ref. 37816). Characterized further by: greenish or reddish brown to brownish grey body color , with several narrow curved dark bars on the midlateral part of the body; dark brown spot midlaterally on the caudal peduncle; 3-5 blue lines across head; oblong body, slightly compressed, depth contained 2.6-3.3 times in SL; width of body 1.8-2.3 times in depth; head smaller compared to other groupers, head length 2.9-3.2 times in SL; evenly convex dorsal head profile; slightly convex interorbital area, width greater than eye diameter; narrow preorbital, depth distinctly less than eye diameter, preorbital depth 10-15 times in HL; rounded preopercle, finely serrate, smooth and fleshy lower edge; ventral edge of subopercle and interopercle smooth; posterior and anterior nostril subequal in size; posterior part of maxilla with hook-shaped or step-like expansion on ventral edge in adults; well developed supramaxilla; pair of small canines at front of jaws; presence of palatine teeth; 2 rows of teeth on midside of lower jaw, inner teeth depressible and twice as long as outer teeth (Ref. 89707).
Biology:  An active swimmer usually found on outer reef slopes and channels adjacent to deep water. Hovers above the bottom and probably feeds primarily on fishes (Ref. 9710). It is uncommon and usually solitary, however Myers (1989, Ref. 4538) reported of occasional sightings of groups of 3 or 4 fish. Solitary, hovering in midwater (Ref 90102).
IUCN Red List Status: Data deficient (Ref. 115185)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:  Reported from Tubbataha Reefs (Ref. 53416) and Lanuza Bay (Ref. 104756). Museum: USNM 99780. Cebu City Market, USNM 149319. Mindoro, Sablayan Bay, USNM 183851. Luzon, Port Maricaban, USNM 183852. Also Ref. 4787, 90102.

Entered by: Capuli, Estelita Emily - 16.10.92
Modified by: Valdestamon, Roxanne Rei - 11.03.13
Checked by: Capuli, Estelita Emily - 28.04.94

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