Because their range exceeds national borders, the best approach to their conservation is regional closed seasons. Sampling of fish landed in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico during the 1970s and 1980s indicates that Nassau grouper were commonly caught, mostly from spawning aggregation sites.
Currently, Nassau grouper are occasionally reported during underwater reef surveys at low density. Coloration varies, but adult fish are generally light beige, with five dark brown vertical bars, a large black saddle blotch on top of the base of the tail, and a row of black spots below and behind each eye.
A dark band that forms a tuning-fork pattern on top of the head, beginning at the front of the upper jaw, extending through each eye, and then curving to meet its corresponding band in front of the dorsal fin. They can be distinguished from other groupers by the vertical bars and dark saddle coloring along the dorsal part of the area preceding the tail.
Color pattern can change within minutes from almost white too bicolored to uniformly dark brown, according to the behavioral state of the fish. They take advantage of lower light levels at dawn and dusk, combined with the higher number of prey during changeover between diurnal and nocturnal fishes.
Nassau grouper are found in tropical and subtropical waters of the western North Atlantic. This includes Bermuda, Florida, Bahamas, the Yucatán Peninsula, and throughout the Caribbean to southern Brazil.
There has been one verified report of Nassau grouper in the Gulf of Mexico at Flower Gardens Bank. The Nassau grouper is considered a reef fish, but it transitions as it grows through a series of shifts in both habitat and diet.
As juveniles, they are found in nearshore shallow waters in macro algal and seagrass habitats. The main influences on where they live are not known, though water clarity, habitat, and bent hos (the community of organisms in the seabed) seem to be important.
Nassau grouper tend to spend a lot of time in one spot, often on a high-relief coral reefs or rocks in clear water. Larger fish tend to occupy deeper reef areas with greater vertical relief.
While adult Nassau groupers can change sex after hormone injection, natural sex-change has not been confirmed. Sites have been found near the edges of reefs, as little as 50 yards from the shore, near drop-offs into deeper water across a wide range of depths (20 to 200 feet) and environments (including soft corals, sponges, stony coral outcrops, and sandy depressions).
Some more information on how Nassau grouper get to their spawning sites, based on limited observations: After 1 to 2 months of floating with the ocean currents, the larvae settle in nearshore shallow waters in macro algal and seagrass habitats.
Adults are relatively solitary, living in areas that (patchily) overlap other groupers’ home ranges. In some countries with protective regulations, there are too few enforcement officers to cover a large geographic area with many landing locations.
Meanwhile, fish caught during closed season are held and later marketed as legal capture. The NassauGrouper (Epimetheus stratus) is a large fish that inhabits our reefs and is especially common in the waters of Saga.
The Nassaugroupercan be identified by three distinct features: 1) its body is covered in five olive-brown vertical bars, and a diagonal bar goes from its snout, across its eye and to the start of its dorsal fin; 2) the top of its head has a tuning-fork shaped marking; and 3) the base of its tail has a large black saddle spot. The fact that the Dutch Caribbean has a healthy population of NassauGrouper is an attestation to the health of our reefs and the success of our marine parks.
One of the biggest threats to this fish species is habitat loss; Nassau groupers inhabit shallow to mid-range coral reefs (typically between 6 and 30 meters) and rocky areas where they can hide in crevices; juveniles are commonly found in seagrass beds. Both coral reefs and seagrass beds have suffered much degradation in parts of the Caribbean within the past few decades.
Spawning aggregations of hundreds to thousands of individuals take place once a year between December and January. The red grouper is one of the most important species of fish caught off the southeast coast of the Unite States.
Color is variable and can change, however the head and body are generally dark brown with a reddish cast, shading to pink or reddish below, with pale poorly defined pale areas and small black spots around the eye. The soft dorsal, caudal and anal fins are dark with narrow white edges.
Choose another fish African PompanoAlbacoreAlligator Aramco Jack American Eel American Shad Apache Trout Arctic Char Arctic GraylingAtlantic Bonito Atlantic Cod Atlantic CroakerAtlantic Halibut Atlantic Salmon Atlantic SpadefishBigeye TrevallyBigeye TunaBigmouth BuffaloBlack BullheadBlack CrappieBlack Drawback Grouper Black MarlinBlack Sea Fastback SkipjackBlackfin TunaBlacktip Sharable CatfishBlue Martinique SharkBluefin TrevallyBluefin TunaBluefishBluegillBonefishBonnethead SharkBowfinBrook TroutBroomtail Grouper Brown Bullhead Brown Trumbull TroutBurbotButterfly Peacock Bass California CorbinaCalifornia Halibut California YellowtailCero MackerelChain PickerelChannel CatfishChum SalmonCobiaCoho SalmonCommon CarpCongerCrevalle JackCubera SnapperCutthroat TroutDogtooth Tuna Dolly VardenDolphinfishFlathead Catfish Florida GarFlounderFreshwater Drama Grouper Giant TrevallyGolden Trout Grass Carpet BarracudaGreater AmberjackGreen SunfishHammerhead SharkHogfishHorse-eye JackInconnuKelp Basking Mackerel King SalmonLadyfishLake Trouble WhitefishLargemouth BassLingcodLittle TunnyLongbill SpearfishLongnose Bamako SharkMangrove SnapperMountain WhitefishMuskellungeMutton SnapperNorthern PikeNorthern PikeminnowOscarPacific Bonito Pacific Cod Pacific Crevasse Jack Pacific Halibut Pacific Sierra MackerelPaddlefishPermitPink SalmonPollockPompanoPorbeagle SharkPumpkinseed SunfishRainbow RunnerRainbow Trout Red Drum RedGrouperRed SnapperRedbreast SunfishRedear SunfishRedeye Bass Rock Around WhitefishSailfishSaugerSaugeyeScamp Grouper Sea TroutSheepsheadShoal BassShortbill SpearfishShorthead RedhorseShortnose Silver RedhorseSkipjack TunaSmallmouth BassSmallmouth BuffaloSnookSockeye Salmon Spanish MackerelSpeckled Peacock BassSplakeSpotSpotted BassSpotted GarS potted SeatroutSteelheadStriped BassStriped MarlinSturgeonSwordfishTarponTautogThresher Shakier MuskellungeTiger Shakier Troupe SharkTripletailWahooWalleyeWarmouthWeakfishWhalers Shark White Bass White Catfish White Marlin White Perch White SeabassWhite SharkWhiterock BassWiperYellow BassYellow BullheadYellow PerchYelloweye RockfishYellowfin TunaYellowtail Snapper Which is why there are closed seasons for certain fish, ensuring a time when they can be left alone to breed in peace and to perpetuate their species.
They are mostly found in the Northern Bahamas but only the Nassau grouper is on the IUCN Red List as an Endangered Species in need of protection. Sad to say, mankind is the main cause of the population fragility that has led to the official listing, and the imposition of a strict closed season for 3 months between December 1st and February 28th.
Scientific studies have shown that commercial overfishing has reduced a thriving population to fewer than 10,000 mature fish. An adult can grow to more than a meter long, and weigh 25 kg They tend to be solitary daytime feeders, eating small fish & crustaceans Their large mouths are used to ‘inhale’ or suck in prey The coloring of an individual can vary from red to brown These fish have little black spots around the eyes (I’ve no idea why).
Credits: all photos, Melinda River; Infographic by Royal Defense Force (tip o’ the hat to Char Albury); Info Sheet, Dept of Fisheries The FCC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) manages the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean differently, and it’s important to know what’s in season and what toucan harvest from each shoreline.
The Gulf of Mexico is a unique body of water that provides commercial and recreational anglers plenty of fishing opportunities. The Gulf covers most of Florida’s west coast, from Pensacola in the Panhandle to the start of the Everglades at the tip of the peninsula.
This is important to keep in mind as there are different regulations for what’s in season and what toucan harvest depending on if you ’re in state or federal waters. For Gag Grouper fishing in the Gulf, it’s important to note what county you ’re embarking from.
For counties of Franklin, Weibull, Taylor and Jefferson (in the Panhandle area from Apalachicola to Steinhatchee) there is open season in state waters from April 1 to June 30, and again from September 1 to December 31. Black, Red, Scamp, Yellow fin and Yellow mouth Grouper all have similar regulations in the Gulf.
It’s open season in both state and federal waters for Rock Hind, Coney, Yellow edge and Snowy Groupers. Toucan ask your charter captain if the size you have is a keeper or not; or refer to the FCC regulations to make sure you ’re staying compliant.
If you ’re lucky enough to catch a Goliath Grouper or NassauGrouper, take a quick picture and release it back to the wild. Now moving east to the beautiful Atlantic Ocean where there are excellent opportunities for grouper fishing.
Keep in mind, the FCC considers the Everglades and Florida Keys as part of the Atlantic Ocean waters, and all fishing done in these areas must stay within Atlantic-specific regulations. From the Florida Keys to Jacksonville, anglers have hundreds of cities to choose from to launch your grouper expedition.
If you do catch them within 3 nautical miles of the shore toucan harvest one per vessel per day. Honestly, that’s why there are regulations in place, so that this incredible species is not overfished and the population stays healthy.
Now is the time to book your Grouper fishing charter, the season is just a few short weeks away and you ’ll want to be sure to get in on the action! They are large fish and can be found on rocky bottoms, reefs, and drop off walls in water over 60 feet deep.
The Goliath Grouper is an endangered species that can weigh up to 800 pounds and grow up to 8 feet in length. They prefer squid, crab, shrimp, lobster and octopus, but will eat any dead fish that sink into their habitat.
The Scamp is commonly 10 to 20 pounds and is sometimes found fairly close to shore, but generally sticks to deep reefs and ledges offshore. The Scamp is plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico and can be found in the Atlantic mostly on the northern Florida coast.
The Warsaw Grouper is a large fish growing to 6 feet (1.8 m) and can weigh over 550 pounds (263 kg). Beginning January 31, 2011, it is prohibition to harvest or retain the Speckled Hind and Warsaw Grouper in federal waters in the South Atlantic.
The beautiful Yellow fin Grouper is more commonly found in the warmer waters of the southern part of Florida on offshore coral reefs, wrecks and hard drop-offs. Standard bottom fishing setup can be used to catch the Yellow fin with live bait or shrimp.
This Grouper can grow to 30 pounds and tend to be smaller in the eastern Gulf of Mexico due to the lack of soft bottom. The Tiger Grouper can be seen during the day prowling around shallow coral reefs from 5 to 20 feet looking for prey.
The Tiger reaches around 8-10 pounds, 35 inches long, and feeds on small fish, squid, shrimp, and crabs, devouring them with its big teeth. The Red Hind are found on shallow reefs and feed on crabs, shrimp, lobster, some fish and octopus.
Yahoo is another fun fighting marine game fish toucan catch in Miami. The Yahoo is a highly prized game fish due to its aggressive fighting style and tasty meat.
The Marbled Grouper is classified as vulnerable by the American Fisheries Society and is rarely caught but can be found in most tropical waters. The Snowy can be caught inshore (usually the youngsters) but it is primarily found on the Atlantic continental shelf in deep water, 300 to 500 feet, along rocky edges and cliffs in swift currents.
This species is in serious decline due to overfishing so the restrictions are 1 Snowy per person per day (always check current rules). The most ferocious predators in the sea, Sharks are a fun aggressive fish to catch.
Coney Grouper is a smaller fish that can be found with several color combinations from, yellow, brown, orange and even white with a red head. They are usually found in the warm waters of southern Florida, mostly the Atlantic coast, usually hiding in holes on coral reefs waiting to ambush its prey.
The most ferocious predators in the sea, Sharks are a fun aggressive fish to catch. Along all the coasts of Florida and the Bahamas, from inshore estuaries out to the deepest waters offshore Groupers are found.
They are the most widely available of the game fish and also offer a great number of differing varieties. The species have now started to make a comeback and have been renamed Goliath Grouper) are the most widely distributed.
Most of the other species, Nassau, Red Hind, Black, Yellow fin and Scamp live in and around the coral reefs of the extreme south of Florida. Groupers live close to the bottom and are always associated with some type of submerged structure i.e. reef or wreck.
Adults inhabit rocky bottoms, reefs and drop-off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young occur inshore in waters around seagrass beds, mangrove forests and hard-bottom communities. Adults inhabit rocky bottoms, reefs and drop-off walls in water over 60 feet deep; young occur inshore in waters around seagrass beds, mangrove forests and hard-bottom communities. Grouper are born as females but can later become male.
Grouper spawn between January and May with some of the more tropical species spawning year-round. Grouper fishing from a boat typically involves baits fished near the bottom, with heavy tackle and heavier to bring grouper to the surface. They feed on squid, crustaceans, and fish. The Florida record is 42lbs 4ozs caught near St. Augustine Inlet.
Kevin Kelly displays a Goliath Grouper killed unfortunately by RED TIDE in 2005. Jewish now known as the Goliath Grouper (Epimetheus Tamara) can attain weight up to 800lbs and is more common in the south of Florida than the north.
Goliath Troopers are found nearshore often around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges. NassauGrouper (Epimetheus stratus) common weight 1 to 10lbs. This grouper's range is limited to south Florida.
Nassau grouper form large spawning aggregations, making this species highly vulnerable to over harvest. Red Hind Grouper (Epimetheus Gustavus) common weight 1-2lbs.
The species is found in tropical and subtropical waters as deep as 400 feet, from North Carolina to Brazil, including the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Spawning occurs from March to July, and females release an average of 90 thousand to 3 million pelagic eggs.
The species may live up to 17 years or longer, and reach a length of 23 inches and a weight of 10 pounds. Red hind feed on small fishes, crabs, shrimps and squid.
Red hind will hide in holes and crevices and capture their prey by ambushWorld record 6lbs 1oz. Adults are associated with rocky bottoms, reef, and drop off walls in water over 60 feet deep.
Young black grouper may occur inshore in shallow water. Black grouper spawn between May and August, and they are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that young predominantly female who transform into males as they grow larger.
Larger individuals of this species are generally found in greater depths, and they feed on fish and squid. Grouper are very tasty meals. Florida State Record 113lb 6oz caught near the Dry Tortugas.
Undergoes sex reversal from female to male in latter part of life; specific name translates to “venomous,” alluding to the fact that this fish, perhaps more frequently than other groupers, is associated with ciguatera poisoning; feeds on fish and squid. Florida record 34lbs 6oz caught near Key Largo. Yellow mouth Grouper (Mycteroperca interstitial is) has a color tan or brown with darker spots, or a network of spots, fused into lines; distinct yellow wash behind the jaws; yellow around the eyes; outer edges of fins yellowish.
Found OFFSHORE over reefs and rocks; not as common as scamp in the Gulf; range limited to southern Florida. Undergoes sex reversal, young individuals female, older individuals becoming male; young fish are bi-colored, dark above white below; feeds on small fish and crustaceans.
Warsaw Grouper (Epimetheus nitrites) is uniformly dark brown, with no distinct markings; dorsal fin with 10 spines; second spine very long (much longer than third); caudal fin squared-off; rear nostril larger than front nostril; young have yellow caudal fin with dark saddle on caudal peduncle; some whitish spots on body. On May 24th 2014, Cullen Greer reeled in a six-and-a-half-foot-long, 297-pound Warsaw grouper while fishing in Venice, Louisiana.
The most shocking part of this story may be that it won't go down as the largest fish ever caught in the state. If the catch does get verified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, it would become the fifth-largest ever caught in the state.
It could also go down in the state record books as the third-largest Warsaw caught by a hand crank, according to Greer. Leaders need be substantial as these fish are usually on the large size and dive straight back into the whole in which they live.
Superimposed on this base color are a number of lighter stripes, darker spots, bars, and patterns, including black spots below and behind the eye, and a forked stripe on the top of the head. By the light of the full moon, huge numbers of the grouper cluster together to mate in mass spawning.
The Nassau grouper is fished both commercially and for sport; it is less shy than other groupers, and is readily approached by scuba divers. However, its numbers have been sharply reduced by overfishing in recent years, and it is a slow breeder.
Furthermore, its historic spawning areas are easily targeted for fishing, which tends to remove the reproductively active members of the group. The species is therefore highly vulnerable to overexploitation, and is recognized as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
The governments of the United States, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas have banned or instituted closed fishing seasons for the Nassau grouper in recent years. In the Cayman Islands, fishing in the spawning holes of the grouper has been banned until the end of 2016.
A large spawning site for the species is located at Glover's Reef, off the Belizean coast. It has been identified as one of only two viable sites remaining for the species, of 9 originally known locations.
However, the Nassaugrouper's spawning region is not included in this marine protected area (MPA). Many conservation methods have been put in place to help the grouper, including closed seasons, when fishing is not allowed.
Some areas are protected, a complete ban on fishing the grouper in US waters has been instituted. However, analysis of declines in both populations and the size spawning aggregations has led to the species being uplifted to critically endangered by the IUCN Red List in 2018.
The Nassau grouper has been depicted on postage stamps of Cuba (1965, 1975), the Bahamas (1971 5-cent), and Antigua and Barbuda (1987 40-c). The Nassau grouper was placed on the World Conservation Union's realist of threatened species in 1996, and it was determined to be endangered because its population has declined by 60% in the past 30 years.
Over a third of spawning aggregations have been estimated to have disappeared, and the grouper is considered to be commercially extinct in some areas. The current population is estimated to be more than 10,000 mature individuals, but is thought to be decreasing.
^ Shcherbina, Andrey; Glen G. Gawarkiewicz; Christopher A. Liner; Simon R. Horror (Sep 2008). “Mapping bathymetric and hydrographic features of Glover's Reef, Belize, with a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle” (PDF).
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council would like to gain a better understanding of what’s happening on the water. All anglers on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida who intend to fish for or harvest certain reef fish from a private vessel are required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation.
Those with a Gulf Reef Fish Angler designation will meet the statewide requirement until the Gulf designation expires, even if you are fishing on the Atlantic coast. Gulf state waters are from shore to 9 nautical miles.
Atlantic state waters are from shore to 3 nautical miles. Participation mandatory to fish for grouper in Florida waters.
Expand All | Collapse All 1 gag or black within the 3 grouper aggregate Note: In the Atlantic reef fish fishery, gear rules require hooking tools, and as of Jan. 1, 2021, non-stainless steel hooks in all state waters, and non-offset circle hooks N. of 28 ° N. latitude.
Several species of Gulf grouper (red, black, scamp, yellow fin and yellow mouth) are closed Feb. 1-March 31 seaward of the 20-fathom break. Recreational anglers are encouraged to use electronic charting equipment to plot the 20-fathom break by entering the established coordinates listed on the map below into a route.
Monroe County: Several species of Atlantic grouper (red, black, yellow fin, yellow mouth, scamp, rock hind, red hind, Coney and grays by) are closed Jan. 1 – April 30 in all state and federal waters of the Atlantic including all state waters off Monroe County (Atlantic and Gulf sides). During this closure, anglers can harvest grouper in open federal waters of the Gulf and return to port in Monroe County by traveling through closed state waters of the Atlantic as long as the vessel proceeds directly to port without stopping to fish.