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Are Giant Grouper Protected

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Brent Mccoy
• Saturday, 02 January, 2021
• 8 min read

The Atlantic Goliath grouper or Tamara (Epimetheus Tamara), also known as the Jewish, is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m (16 to 164 ft). Its range includes the Florida Keys in the US, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean and most of the Brazilian coast.

grouper goliath diver scuba endangered epinephelus protected alamy fl itajara shopping cart
(Source: www.alamy.com)

Contents

On some occasions, it is caught off the coasts of the US states of New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.

Young Atlantic Goliath groupers may live in brackish estuaries, oyster beds, canals, and mangrove swamps, which is unusual behavior among groupers. They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and can weigh as much as 360 kg (790 lb).

The world record for a hook-and-line-captured specimen is 308.44 kg (680.0 lb), caught off Fernanda Beach, Florida, in 1961. Considered of fine food quality, Atlantic Goliath grouper were a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen.

It is a relatively easy prey for spear fishermen because of the grouper's inquisitive and generally fearless nature. They also tend to spawn in large aggregations, returning annually to the same locations.

Until a harvest ban was placed on the species, its population was in rapid decline. The fish is recognized as “vulnerable” globally and “endangered” in the Gulf of Mexico.

grouper goliath florida fish keys ocean atlantic marine giant protected species mote key line study fishes diving aquarium thread noaa
(Source: mote.org)

The species' population has been recovering since the ban; with the fish's slow growth rate, however, some time will be needed for populations to return to their previous levels. Goliath groupers are believed to be protogynous hermaphrodites, which refer to organisms that are born female and at some point in their lifespans change sex to male.

Males can be sexually mature at about 115 centimeters (45 in), and ages 4–6 years. In May 2015, the Atlantic Goliath grouper was successfully bred in captivity for the first time.

Tidal pools act as nurseries for juvenile E. Tamara. In tidal pools juvenile E.Tamara are able to utilize rocky crevices for shelter.

Besides shelter, tidal pools provide E. Tamara with plenty of prey such as lobster and porcelain crab. The Atlantic Goliath grouper has historically been referred to as the “Jewish”.

It may have referred to the fish's status as inferior leading it to be declared only suitable for Jews, or the flesh having a “clean” taste comparable to kosher food ; it has also been suggested that this name is simply a corruption of jaw fish or the Italian word for “bottom fish”, Giuseppe. In 2001, the American Fisheries Society stopped using the term because of complaints that it was culturally insensitive.

florida grouper mouth goliath fish protected inside palm itajara epinephelus neill patrick michael behavior marine
(Source: mpo.photoshelter.com)

^ Lovato, Cleo nice Maria Cardozo; Soars, Bruno Clears; Begot, Tiago Octavio Buffalo; Montage, Luciano Coach de Assis (January 2016). “Tidal pools as habitat for juveniles of the Goliath grouper Epimetheus Tamara (Lichtenstein 1822) in the Amazonian coastal zone, Brazil”.

Risky, Delaney C.; Bakenhaster, Micah D.; Adams, Douglas H. (2015). “ Pseudorhabdosynochus species (Monogenoidea, Diplectanidae) parasitizing groupers (Serranidae, Epinephrine, Epinephrine) in the western Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters, with descriptions of 13 new species”.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Epimetheus Tamara. Its range includes the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys in the United States, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean, and most of the Brazilian coast.

Scientists from our Southeast Fisheries Science Center are working to understand the changes that have occurred in coral reef ecosystems following the loss of top predators, such as groupers. From 1997-2005, our researchers collaborated with Florida State University's Institute for Fishery Resource Ecology (Dr. Chris Koenig and Dr. Felicia Coleman) to monitor the status and recovery of Goliath grouper.

This Goliath grouper research program investigated juvenile and adult Jewish abundance, distribution and migration patterns; their age and growth; and their habitat utilization. With the help of Don Maria we have tagged over 1,000 adult Jewish and have observed aggregations of Goliath grouper in both the Gulf of Mexico and more recently, the South Atlantic.

nassau grouper bahamas endangered protected fish reef vulnerable groupers coral florida threats reefs
(Source: rollingharbour.com)

Posters created by the Center of Marine Conservation help disseminate information about our project and its requirements, highlighting our tagging study and the morphology of Goliath grouper. Given that these groupers were afforded protected status, researchers worked to utilize and develop novel non-lethal techniques to procure and analyze biological samples for life history information.

Researchers have also determined that soft dorsal rays hold promise for aging older fish (Marie et al., 2008). These casualties, resulting from red tide, gave our biologists a unique opportunity to collect a multitude of biological samples, without having to sacrifice healthy animals.

From these decomposing carcasses, biologists were able to record length for use in an age/length relationship, and were able to extract monoliths and remove dorsal spines and rays for comparison of hard parts in age and growth analysis. Tissue samples were also removed and sent to the Florida Marine Research Institute, so they could evaluate the level of red tide toxin.

The sampling trip gave these biologists an opportunity to educate the curious beach goers about red tide and Goliath grouper (a few of which had been misidentified as baby manatees). Attempts to evaluate the data needed to assess the status of these depleted stocks and develop rebuilding plans present unique challenges.

In 2010, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA Fisheries convened a benchmark Goliath grouper assessment for the continental U.S. population. This project would not have been possible without ongoing collaboration with researchers from Florida State University, Everglades National Park, and the recreational fishing and SCUBA diving communities.

grouper goliath florida endangered critically protect areas protected marine killing mission
(Source: medium.com)

The giant grouper has a robust body which has a standard length equivalent to 2.4 to 3.4 times its depth. The dorsal profile of the head and the intraorbital area are convex, The properly has a rounded corner and a finely serrated margin.

The gill cover has a convex upper margin. There are 11 spines and 14-16 soft rays in the dorsal fin while the anal fin has 3 spines and 8 soft rays.

The adults are greyish-brown in color overlain with a mottled pattern and with darker fins. And a maximum published weight of 400 kilograms (880 lb).

The giant grouper is a species of shallow water and can be found at depths of 1 to 100 meters (3.3 to 328.1 ft). Large specimens have been caught from shore and in harbors.

They are found in caves and in wrecks while the secretive juveniles occur in reefs and are infrequently observed. The adults are mainly solitary and hold territories on the outer reef and in lagoons.

jewfish grouper goliath diver alamy protected scuba itajara
(Source: www.alamy.com)

They have also been caught in turbid water over silt or mud sea beds by prawn fishermen. The giant grouper is an opportunistic ambush predator which feeds on a variety of fishes, as well as small sharks, juvenile sea turtles, crustaceans and mollusks which are all swallowed whole.

Fish which inhabit coral reefs and rocky areas favor spiny lobsters as prey and 177 centimeters (70 in) specimen taken of Maui in Hawaii had a stomach contents of two spiny lobsters and a number of crabs. Fish living in estuaries environments in South Africa were found to be feeding almost exclusively on the crab Scylla errata.

They are, however, curious and frequently approach divers closely. They are not generally considered dangerous to humans but divers are advised to treat large specimens with caution and not to hand feed them.

They are aggregate broadcast spawners, usually with several females per male. Studies in captive populations suggest that the dominant male and female begin the spawning event as nearly the only spawners for the first day or two, but other members of the aggregation fertilize more eggs as the event progresses, with even the most recently turned males fathering offspring.

Giant groupers are diabetic protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that although some males develop from reproductively functional females other males start to produce sperm without ever having gone through a phase as a reproductive female. The giant grouper is a highly valued food fish and is taken by both commercial and recreational fisheries.

goliath grouper scuba groupers protected divers want
(Source: grouperluna.com)

As well as the consumption of its flesh its skin, gall bladder and stomach are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is valued in Hong Kong as a live fish for the live reef food fish trade, especially smaller specimens.

This species is cultured in agriculture and this practice is widespread but there is a restricted supply of juveniles, although hatcheries in Taiwan have produced captive bred juveniles, exporting some for to be grown on in other parts of South-East Asia. Many of the fish produced in aquaculture are hybrids between this species and E. fuscoguttatus.

Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephrine). “A study into parental assignment of the communal spawning protogynous hermaphrodite, giant grouper (Epimetheus lanceolatus)”.

^ Peter Palma; Akihito Nakamura; Garden XYZ Libunaoa; et al. (2019). “Reproductive development of the threatened giant grouper Epimetheus lanceolatus “.

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2 brobible.com - https://brobible.com/guyism/article/goliath-grouper-tries-to-eat-florida-man-settles-for-swallowing-a-fish-whole/
3 www.aquarobotman.com - https://www.aquarobotman.com/blogs/underwater-sea-creatures/goliath-grouper-fish
4 answers.yahoo.com - https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index
5 answers.yahoo.com - https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index
6 coastalanglermag.com - https://coastalanglermag.com/season-of-goliath-grouper/
7 www.sun-sentinel.com - https://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/fl-reg-goliath-grouper-20170622-story.html
8 ocean.si.edu - http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life/fish/goliath-grouper
9 www.schuldenfrei.com - https://www.schuldenfrei.com/10-animals-you-can-see-in-a-coral-reef-on-sanibel-island/