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Are Grouper Endangered In Florida

author
Earl Hamilton
• Saturday, 07 November, 2020
• 7 min read

The aggregation of large numbers of the fish in a small area during the spawning season attracted commercial and sports fishermen to the species. United States banned the fishing for Goliath groupers in its waters in 1990.

grouper goliath endangered florida critically protect save killing ocean mission
(Source: mission-blue.org)

Contents

With fishing no longer affecting its numbers, scientists searched for other potential threats to the Goliath grouper. Mosquito control measures and water drainage projects in the Everglades have both impacted heavily on the Florida mangrove swamps.

The loss of the waterways making up part of its nursery will not aid in the recovery of Goliath grouper numbers. A rapid increase in dinoflagellates of the species Karina breves is responsible for the marked color change of the sea.

As well as changing the color of seawater, Karina breves produces a neurotoxin, called breve toxin, which is deadly to many fish. Scientists from National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) examine these fish to ascertain which species are threatened by red tide events.

“It makes sense and good policy to protect the places Nassau grouper needs to survive,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. The protection will require agencies that fund or permit projects in the grouper ’s habitat to consult with the Service to ensure the area is not damaged.

In 2016 the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration listed the grouper as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in response to a scientific petition from Wilder Guardians. Poor water quality and increased sedimentation due to land-development practices threaten both coral and macro algae that are important resources during the grouper ’s various life stages.

goliath groupers grouper florida endangered critically protect killing mission mag stearns walt
(Source: mission-blue.org)

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. Guardian has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, and over 278,000 members and supporters worldwide.

Our mission is to protect South Florida ’s watershed through citizen engagement and community action, ensuring dimmable, drinkable, fishable, water for all. 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.

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.

grouper florida species goliath epinephelus itajara keys endangered alamy
(Source: www.alamy.com)

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.

It lives in shallow tropical waters at small depths that range from 16 to 164 feet (5 – 50 meters) among coral and artificial reefs. The Atlantic Goliath grouper can grow until it reaches approximately 8.2 ft (2.5 m) long and it weighs about 790 lb (360 kg).

grouper goliath florida endangered fish groupers scuba critically killing protect fishing mission diving underwater sea monster stearns walt
(Source: mission-blue.org)

Although the Atlantic Goliath grouper seems to be scary for its large size and even wide mouth, it is not extremely dangerous but it is courageous. Being fearless and delicious at the same time is not good for this fish as these two factors are the main reasons behind making it highly sought after by fishermen and thus harvesting it in large numbers.

Treating this fish in such a cruel way was the main reason behind making it endangered and this is why it was necessary to protect it and entirely ban harvesting it. The Atlantic Goliath grouper is fearless which means that it is not scared easily and this is why it attacks different creatures in the sea even divers and the 11 feet lemon sharks.

The Atlantic Goliath grouper eats most of what it can attack and this includes barracudas, octopus, fish, young sea turtles, crustaceans and even sharks. Reading Time: 7minutesGroupers are some of Florida ’s most iconic fish species.

From monster Goliath's to delicious Scamps, these big bottom-dwellers are a favorite on most Floridian fishing trips. In this article, you can learn all about the different types of Grouper in Florida.

The average catch in Florida is around half that length, weighing between 5 and 20 pounds. Black Grouper live around rocky bottoms and reefs on both sides of the Sunshine State.

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

They spend their summers spawning in much shallower seas, though, as little as 30 feet deep. Commonly known as “Grey Grouper,” these guys are a staple of reef fishing trips around the Gulf and up the Atlantic.

They don’t grow as big as Black Grouper, usually maxing out somewhere around 50 pounds. However, younger Gags can be found in estuaries and even seagrass beds, so don’t be surprised if you hook one while you’re on the hunt for Redfish and other inshore species.

Bigger fish hunt around muddy and rocky coastal waters. Young Goliath's will head right into estuaries and look for food around oyster bars.

Their huge size and fearless curiosity made them an easy target, and they were overfished almost to extinction in the late 20th century. Luckily, Goliath Grouper are strictly protected these days, and you can only fish for them on a catch-and-release basis.

From teaming up with other predators to catch their dinner to reportedly fanning bait out of traps for an easy snack, they’re far brighter than most people give them credit for. Sadly, this intelligence comes with the same natural curiosity that put Goliath Grouper in hot water.

grouper goliath fishing florida largest ever groupers report fish giant chew myers fort critically endangered protect caught shark attacks slow
(Source: mission-blue.org)

If you come across one, count yourself lucky for the chance to meet it and make sure it swims off unharmed. Nothing says “reef fishing in Florida like a boastful of big, tasty Red Grouper.

These deep-water hunters are the reason people bother to go offshore when there are so many fish in the shallows. The average Red Grouper weighs somewhere in the 5–10 lb range, and anything over 2 feet long is a rare catch.

They live around rocky bottom up to 1,000 feet down, so you may have to travel 20 miles or more to get to them. According to most people who have caught them, Scamp are the tastiest fish in the family.

Your average fish will be well under 2 feet and anything over 5 pounds is a good catch. You won’t come across them in much less than 100 feet of water, and you can easily find them in three or four times that depth.

They also grow much bigger than Scamp, meaning you’re in for a real feast if you catch one. NOAA has declared Speckled Hind a Species of Concern, mainly because they have so little data on them.

grouper goliath florida endangered critically protect killing areas mission protected marine macwilliams wayne
(Source: mission-blue.org)

If Goliath Grouper are the kings of the shallows, these guys dominate the deep. Add in the fact that they live several hundred feet down, where all fish taste great, and they become the dream catch of many deep dropping enthusiasts.

Their dappled, red body and bright yellow fins provide camouflage around the deep, rocky structure that they hunt around. Yellow fin’s scientific name, Mycteroperca Vanessa, roughly translates to “Poisonous Grouper.” This is because they tend to have very high levels of ciguatoxin.

They’re slightly smaller than Scamp on average, but many anglers say that they taste just as good. Yellow mouth Grouper are uncommon in the Gulf of Mexico, but you can bag yourself a colorful feast all along Florida ’s Atlantic Coast.

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In

01: Florida Atlantic Grouper Season 2019
02: Florida Fishing
03: Florida Fishing Almanac
04: Florida Fishing And Hunting License
05: Florida Fishing And Wildlife
06: Florida Fishing And Wildlife App
07: Florida Fishing App
08: Florida Fishing Apparel
09: Florida Fishing Apparel Companies
10: Florida Fishing Bag Limits
Sources
1 myfwc.com - https://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/regulations/general/
2 www.eregulations.com - http://www.eregulations.com/florida/fishing/freshwater/bag-length-limits/
3 flrules.elaws.us - http://flrules.elaws.us/fac/68a-23.005
4 flrules.elaws.us - http://flrules.elaws.us/fac/68b-14.0036