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.
Within 20 minutes I was affected, and within 6 hours I was sick as the proverbial dog. Unlucky for me, I was on a plane back to Chicago when the first onset of the symptoms really hit.
As to the other bizarre symptoms, he said that he had no idea and that I should concentrate on stopping the diarrhea. The reason that my doc had no idea is that this is a fairly unknown disease in the U.S. except for South Florida, BUT, it’s getting more prevalent in our country as more fish species are being imported and waters around the world are becoming warmer.
Other culprits besides black, yellow fin and dusty grouper are: barracuda, amber jack, king mackerel, cuber snapper, dog snapper and hog fish. There is one treatment that lessens symptoms and that is taking Mannitol within the first 48 hours intravenously.
So, while I wait for my nerve fibers to (hopefully) regenerate, I have eliminated all the triggers from my diet that might bring back severe symptoms: fish, alcohol, nuts, chicken, pork (seems that chicken and pork eat products made from fish, who knew?) I’m making up new recipes as I’m going along on this journey that I’ll be sharing with you soon…maybe you can kick-start a better diet without going through this discomfort to get there.
Many of us travel to warm water destinations, I want you all to come home with good memories, not ciguatera! If you would like to read more information about ciguatera written in a more scientific way, you can read this from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and also this warning from the World Health Organization.
However, in terms of actual number of attacks on divers, the Goliath grouper gives sharks a run for their money. In fact, this fish has been known to steal food from aggressive sharks feeding on prey on the ocean bottom.
Although the attack may be defensive, this massive fish has numerous sharp teeth that can cause significant harm to an unwitting diver or any other organism entering its home range. It will typically reach the size of a large motorcycle (400 to 800 pounds) and can attain lengths of over 8 feet.
This monster is usually found in relatively shallow water down to 150 feet and around rock outcroppings and coral reef crevices on the continental shelf. For example, The New York Times reported in 1895 that a fisherman caught a 1,500-pound Goliath grouper in the Gulf of Mexico.
The second author's older brother worked as a commercial deep sea diver on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. A Goliath grouper aggressively chased several divers from around one oil rig until the brother finally had to go down and show the fish that humans are 'the boss' by banging on it with a huge 20-pound box wrench.
It is recognized as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This giant attacking fish may not be as deadly as sometimes portrayed, but they are definitely a monster of the deep which a diver must approach with caution.
Experienced divers may consider themselves fearless towards anything in the water, but when faced with a monster Goliath grouper, their diving skill and nerve may be tested. The Goliath grouper has survived millions of years by defending its own, even if this means aggressively taking on humans.
The Goliath grouper, capable of growing to 800 pounds, bobs around the reefs and swallows the occasional crab or passing fish. As fishermen tell it, these marine blimps hover in wait of easy meals, parking themselves next to fishing boats and snatching someone else's hard-won catch off the line.
They face strong opposition from environmentalists, divers and some scientists, who relish the opportunity to see these enormous, surprisingly curious fish just a few hundred yards from South Florida's condo towers. “If you sit still, they'll come to you and see what's going on,” said Kevin Metz, owner of Underwater Explorers of Boynton Beach, whose business from August through October consists almost exclusively of taking divers to see Goliath groupers at a submerged wreck.
Brian Sanders of Davie has taken famous South Floridians including former Miami Dolphins' linebacker Zach Thomas and former pro wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fishing for Goliath. Written comments to the wildlife commission in support of allowing them to be taken again describe similar experiences.
Whether to allow them to be killed, the wildlife commission has received 439 written comments so far, the majority from fishermen who blame the resurgence of Goliath groupers for a decline in the number of other fish. “They eat massive amounts of reef fish to maintain and grow to these huge weights.
But Christopher Koenig, a biologist at Florida State University who studies the Goliath grouper, said his research on their diet refutes the idea that they have much impact on reef fish, whether grabbed from fishing lines or through the Goliath grouper's own enterprise. Known until 2001 by the politically incorrect name “Jewish,” the Goliath grouper had sustained a sharp decline due to overfishing for its meat, the loss of coastal habitat for young fish and the inherent vulnerabilities of a long-lived species that takes years to reach sexual maturity.
The species is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the global authority on the status of wildlife populations. “Recent stock assessment indicates abundance in South Florida has greatly increased since the fishery closed in 1990,” said Amanda Valley, spokeswoman for the wildlife commission.
“While a limited harvest of smaller-sized fish in south Florida is unlikely to harm the population, the FCC also wants to take into consideration stakeholder perspectives. Sylvia Earle, one of the world's foremost marine biologists, who was named a Hero for the Planet by Time magazine, strongly supports keeping the ban, saying that living Goliath groupers are ecological treasures that support a growing tourism industry.
Groupers are not predatory in nature, so I doubt you would have to fear an attack... If you are referring to the fish known as grouper, a true vegetarian would say “No” and would not eat it.
Reef groupers are eaten by larger fish like sharks, eels, and rays. Giant grouper can grow to 8 feet, and they are eaten by sharks.
If you find these facts useful in your research about lionfish and other invasive species, please consider providing a back link to Lionfish.co, giving us a Google+1, a Facebook “like” or a mention on Twitter so that we can continue with our mission and effectively reach others like yourself in a meaningful and educated way. This means that huge percentages of lionfish fry will recruit to the safety of structure and mature with little predatory stress.
They are gluttonous feeders, meaning that they will eat as much as they can physically manage as often as they are able; lionfish stomachs can expand up to 30 times their normal volume. Native marine creatures and fish stock do not instinctively recognize lionfish as predators and are easily hunted.
When food is scarce, a lionfish’s metabolism can essentially crawl to a stop; Lad Akins, Director of Special Projects at REEF, said in one presentation not long ago that studies have shown that lionfish can live without food for up to 3 months and only lose 10% of their body mass. Invasive lionfish are disastrously out-breeding, out-living, out-eating and out-competing every other native fish in the Western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
If left unchecked lionfish will ultimately cause the destruction of the reefs, native fish stocks and the livelihoods of everyone that depend upon them. Virtually indistinguishable from each other outside the laboratory, P. Holsteins is thought to make up approximately 93% of the total invasive population.
Click on the video below to watch the lionfish population explosion as it occurred between 1985 and 2013, pay particular attention to the progression through the years beginning with 2007. One theory is that several lionfish somehow escaped and were swept into the sea when a private aquarium in Florida was destroyed during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
This theory, as it relates to lionfish, cannot necessarily be disproven and there is plenty of proof that non-native marine species have been spread through the ballast tanks of commercial ocean going vessels. Ultimately, a severe lack of genetic diversity in the invasive population tends to lead scientists in other directions looking for the source and cause.
Lionfish egg masses and larvae were then distributed across the Western Atlantic Basin via ocean currents. Natural predators in the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea that are known to eat lionfish include sharks, cornet fish, grouper, large eels, frog fish and other scorpion fish.
There is speculation that large snapper and some species of trigger fish eat lionfish in their native ranges as well. There are several problems associated with this approach; first, in one experiment in which researchers placed a small lionfish in a tank of several hungry grouper, the much larger predators actually cowered away from the aggressive lionfish and avoided it almost to the point of starving to death before the researchers intervened.
Thirdly, ad hoc training by inexperienced handlers only produces a perilous situation in which the “trainers” (mostly well-meaning divemasters and instructors) teach large and potentially dangerous predators to equate lionfish hunters with food. In turn, these animals have become quite aggressive in locations across the affected area and have caused serious injuries to other divers and numerous close-calls.
If you mind your buoyancy, are aware of your surroundings and NEVER touch or molest marine creatures you will entirely avoid a very painful lesson. While rare, unsuspecting swimmers and bathers in shallow water have been known to accidentally kick or step on a lionfish causing themselves injury.
It’s easy to get careless when handling what you think is a dead fish that surprises you with a final violent “death shake,” too. Venom must be injected into the body through bites, spines, fangs and stingers while poison must be inhaled or ingested (eaten, swallowed or absorbed) in order for the toxin to have any effect.
Symptoms of being envenomed by a lionfish include the almost immediate onset of INTENSE pain followed by swelling, redness and bruising in the area of the puncture wound. First aid and treatment of a lionfish sting includes inspecting the puncture wound and removing any pieces of the spines that may have broken off and remain in the injection site.
Control bleeding and immediately apply the hottest water you can stand without scalding or burning your skin. Immersing the affected area is best but if it is not possible due to circumstances or the wound’s location, applying a clean cloth soaked in hot water is most effective.
Clean the wound thoroughly as recommended for any injury caused by a marine animal or organism in order to prevent infection. Quite frankly, seeking medical attention is NEVER a bad idea in the event of a lionfish sting, and we highly recommend it.
Ceviche, sushi, sashimi (raw), fried, baked, in soup… Lionfish is a very mild white meat with no “red line” that can be prepared just about any way snapper, mahi (dolphin fish or dorado) and grouper can be prepared. Lionfish are extremely safe to eat in most areas, however, just like eating snapper, grouper, barracuda and over 400 other species of fish identified as potential carriers caution must be exercised in those limited areas where ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) is a problem.