Posted by: reefrescue | June 29, 2010

Goliath Grouper Encounter

While conducting an in-water survey Reef Rescue volunteer diver Terry St. Jean had an encounter with a rare giant. A Goliath grouper (formerly called jewfish), accompanied Terry for 20 minutes during her dive. The curious giant, estimated to be over four feet long and weighing several hundred pounds, inspected the dive team and seemed fascinated with Terry’s fluorescent scuba fins.

Goliath grouper information:

The giant of the grouper family, the Goliath grouper is the largest of the western north Atlantic groupers.  It can reach nearly 800 pounds (455 kg) and a length of 8 feet or more. Goliath grouper populations dramatically declined throughout their range during the 1970s and 1980s due to over fishing. Goliath grouper are classified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as critically endangered throughout most of their range. Goliath grouper are totally protected from harvest in Florida. Populations in the southeastern U. S. are recovering.

Goliath grouper feed mostly on fish and crustaceans, such as crabs and shrimp as well as fish in addition to octopuses and even young sea turtles.  Prey is ambushed, caught with a quick rush and a snap of the jaws.  The sharp teeth are adapted for seizing prey and preventing escape although most prey is simply engulfed and swallowed whole.  When not feeding or spawning, adult goliath groupers are generally solitary, sedentary, and territorial, making them an easy target for spearfishing.  Once fully grown, humans and large sharks are the goliath grouper’s only predators.

Mangroves serve as important juvenile habitat for juvenile Goliath grouper This habitat has declined in Florida since the early 1900s due to channelization to redirect freshwater flow from the Everglades, mosquito-abatement, and development for agricultural, industrial, and residential purposes. Loss of mangroves could affect population recovery even if reproductive levels of adult fish are high.

Watch ABC news coverage: http://www.wpbf.com/video/24079350/

NBC News: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/region_s_palm_beach_county/delray_beach/diver-has-an-encounter-with-a-giant-grouper

For more information on Goliath grouper see: http://myfwc.com/RULESANDREGS/Saltwater_Regulations_GoliathGrouperGeneralInfo.htm

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