The fish pictured above is a super common Boenak grouper, Cephalopholis boeanak, with a one-two punch of extremely rare traits.The reason we are writing about this fish at all is that it exhibits and marked form of xanthism turning it a nearly solid yellow coloration, save for its black eye and bright orange highlighted fins.
This particular golden grouper is extremely lucky to be alive for having survived on the reef with its completely uncamouflaged coloration, it’s a miracle it was able to sneak up on and capture any prey at all, not to mention getting picked off by bigger, larger mouthed congeners. This fish has another stroke of luck in the fact that it was spearfished and survived being completely impaled as evidenced by the puncture wounds on both sides of its body.
The apparent spearfishing occurence which landed this lucky golden grouper penetrated the fish right behind the head and through the upper body, narrowly avoiding the internal organs but the fish seems to be recovering well. It was collected in the Masbate Bicol region of the Philippines at a substation of RVS Fishworld and it is currently in treatment with several antibiotics to prevent any bacterial infections from taking hold.
Golden groupers are actually a naturally occuring xanthic form of coloration that can be locally common in some regions of the world. Off the coast of Baja California, the leopard grouper actually has a population where 1% of individuals show the unique beautiful golden color phase. Meanwhile in the Caribbean the coney grouper exhibits several different color phases one of which is also a golden xanthic color.
However, the occurrence of golden groupers in the expansive Indo-Pacific region is exceedingly rare and this is the first reporting of a Boenak grouper exhibiting this awesome golden xanthic color phase. What we really appreciate about this particular specimen of golden grouper is that the species stays rather small, growing up to only a foot long at maximum adult size.
Furthermore, the usually bland, brown-banded coloration which gives it the name of chocolate grouper has been transformed by the xanthism so its bars and darker markings are now a screaming orange color against the brilliant yellow body color.
With Asian folklore having a huge affinity for good luck, good fortune, and especially golden colors and motifs, this is Boenak grouper who’s luck is probably going to explode exponentially as a very wealthy person is likely to obtain this fish and keep it in the best of health in order to promote further good fortunes in the future owner’s life.