Are Goliath Grouper Dangerous To Humans

Bob Roberts
• Wednesday, 09 December, 2020
• 8 min read

While diving in 80-foot deep waters off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, spear fisherman Arif Saber had a standoff with a seemingly fearless and ferocious goliathgrouper, which Grind TV estimated was 300- to 400-pounds. Saber had just caught a lesser amber jack with his spearfish gun, he told Grind TV, when he noticed the large grouper eyeing him and closing the distance in between them.

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(Source: animalbreeze.com)


The video, shot by his wife using a GoPro 3, shows the hefty fish as he nips at the man's flipper, tearing it off, and then goes straight for his catch with its powerful jaw. But, even if the diver wasn't familiar with that specific size of this type of fish, Goliath groupers have been known to roam western Atlantic waters near Florida.

That’s like a silver back gorilla that can swim, only with less hair and a severely diminished tree-swinging ability. While Goliath groupers really aren’t any danger to humans, they will pretty much take what ever they want, like that fat bully that shoves kids into lockers and takes their money, then goes home and cries because he’s lonely.

Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Performed Family: Serranidae Subfamily: Epinephrine Genus: Epimetheus Species: Binomial name Epimetheus Tamara Synonyms Promiscuous Tamara (Lichtenstein, 1822) Serra nus Tamara Lichtenstein, 1822 Serra nus Menelik Valentines, 1828 Serra nus gales J.P. Müller & Trochee, 1848 Serra nus guava Play, 1860 Promiscuous one Ehrenberg, 1915 Promiscuous ditto Roux & Collision, 1954 The Atlantic goliathgrouper 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. 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.

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(Source: www2.padi.com)

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 goliathgrouper 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. This makes them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting while breeding.

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.

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.

goliath grouper scared humans should nice
(Source: animalbreeze.com)

Males can be sexually mature at about 115 centimeters (45 in), and ages 4–6 years. In May 2015, the Atlantic goliathgrouper 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 goliathgrouper 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.

^ 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”.

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(Source: www.lolwot.com)

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. Below are 5 common myths on Goliath grouper used to justify requests for lifting the current moratorium.

TODAY: Goliath grouper spawning aggregation re-forming in east Florida after being fished to extinction. In Goliath grouper, poor development of canine teeth reflects a generalized diet .

The isotope analyses indicated a broad prey base with a relatively high trophic status , but not to the level of a top predatory fish as the myth explains. The most comprehensive study to date demonstrates that: 1) Goliath groupers are not the cause for declining fish and lobster stocks.

Overfishing is the main cause; 2) Goliath groupers function as a top-down control on juvenile lobster predators, ensuring more lobsters reach adult size and become available to the lobster fishery; and 3) Goliath groupers could provide additional ecological and socioeconomic benefits: in ecotourism, and as potential bio-control of the invasive Indo-Pacific red lionfish Steroid Holsteins on Atlantic reefs. Fish have indeterminate growth, which means, they keep increasing and weight throughout their life, unlike us and other mammals, who reach our maximum length (height in our case) at a determined adult age.

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(Source: www2.padi.com)

During the juvenile phase (from birth until reaching sexual maturity), fish experience their fastest growth rate, which then decreases progressively throughout the rest of their life. Once commercial extinction occurred in the late 1980s, goliathgrouper were absent in Florida reefs.

Since the 1990 fishing moratorium, goliathgrouper are in a path of recovery, slowly returning to their original distribution area. Site attachment, available habitat and spawning aggregation behavior also contribute to perceiving goliathgrouper as a pest.

Available hard bottom structure, specially in regions which lack natural reef habitat or where this habitat has been degraded, also concentrates Goliath groupers, giving an artificial perception of over-abundance to the observer. Finally, spawning aggregations concentrate all the adult goliathgrouper throughout the reef in one single location, compounding a false sense of overabundance to the casual observer.

Only the few “old-timers” left in Florida, those that were fishing in the 1950s and 1960s, have experienced the extinction and path towards recovery of goliathgrouper. The species is extremely vulnerable to overfishing due to its slow growth, long life (possibly exceeding four decades), late sexual maturity (up to 8 years), strong site fidelity, the formation of spawning aggregations, and being unafraid of divers (even those with speargun) .

When the fish meat was used, 90 % of it was ground for fertilizer use or ended up in canned food for pets (dogs and cats). There were several reports of drugs being smuggled inside the carcasses of dead Goliath, in their way to northern states.

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(Source: www.pouted.com)

Goliath grouper also die when red tides, or Harmful Algal Blooms (Has) from the dinoflagellate algae Karina breves, occur. It has been demonstrated that the cause of death for the marine mammals is due to the ingestion of prey which contained the breve toxin, and by the process of bio accumulation, enough breve toxin accumulated in the animal’s tissues to become the cause of death .

Hence, consumption of goliathgrouper fillets could pose an additional breve toxin health risk for humans. Finally, studies on pesticide levels contained in goliathgrouper tissue have not been completed, but it is possible they follow a similar bio accumulation pattern than that of methyl mercury and breve toxin.

We must use this resource for the benefit of the fishermen, so we have to do something about this, such as a limited recreational take, with a tag or permit system. The perception of goliathgrouper invading every crevice of the reef has been discussed in myth #3, and is due to the “shifting baselines' syndrome” explained there.

Spearfishes and hook-and-liners wiped out the goliathgrouper population in U.S. waters in the late 1980s reaching commercial extinction . It will be extremely difficult to justify the socioeconomic, management and ethical reasons for opening a limited recreational take, mainly due to the potential health risks for human consumption (explained above), the lack of “sport” in killing such a catchable species, and the potential of localized extinction events when tags or permits were used in a short time window or limited geographic range.

Ironically, the same qualities that make goliathgrouper extremely vulnerable to overfishing and extinction, also make them a great ecotourist attraction: they are huge, long-lived, unafraid of divers, remain in the same reef site, and form spawning aggregations. Direct benefit to fishers and the state of Florida also relies on other potential ecosystem services goliathgrouper provide, specially in these times of economic and environmental crisis.

grouper goliath florida near chris parsons nauticam fl canon castor 15mm boynton 5d iii mark shot
(Source: www.nauticam.com)

The invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish (Steroid Holsteins) is a voracious predator of juvenile reef fish and it is causing major disruptions in Atlantic reefs, in conjunction with habitat destruction and global climate change . The lack of big predators able to feed and survive the poisonous spines of lionfish favors the expansion of this invader.

However, the goliathgrouper ’s adaptation to feed on slow-moving venom-spined or skin-poisonous fish (catfish, stingrays, codfish, burr fish, puffer fish), could potentially become our best ally to fight against such destructive invader, and perhaps successfully preserve and rebuild Florida’s reef fish communities. Synopsis of biological information on the Nassau Grouper, Epimetheus stratus (Bloch 1792), and the Jewish, E. Tamara (Lichtenstein 1822).

Population density, demographics, and predation effects of adult goliathgrouper (Epimetheus Tamara). Activity patterns of juvenile goliathgrouper, Epimetheus Tamara, in a mangrove nursery.

Coleman FC, Figueroa WF, Upland JS, Crowder LB. The impact of the United States recreational fisheries on marine fish populations.

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4 www.coursehero.com - https://www.coursehero.com/file/27546989/module-1-quizdocx/
5 www.3m.com - https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/health-information-systems-us/drive-value-based-care/patient-classification-methodologies/