In the video Jorgensen says, “The dinner bell is ringing” as his hooked bonito languished at the surface. Oh my gosh!” he exclaims, before laughing uncontrollably as the grouper vanishes into the depths with the bonito.
They’re protected in state and federal waters off Florida, and anglers must release hooked fish as quickly and carefully as possible. The Ten A Thousand Islands area of Southwest Florida is one of few locations in the world where goliathgrouper have reestablished a viable population.
Read below to learn more about goliathgrouper, the history of its declining and recovering population, and how you can get involved as fisheries scientists continue to research and manage this species. Juvenile Goliath are typically more brown or tan with a more noticeable pattern of dark, blotched, vertical lines.
Once they reach reproductive age, goliathgrouper form large aggregations of 100 or more individuals during the summer spawning months of July, August, and September. These aggregations gather at shallow ledge or shoreline sites such as the mangrove forests of Ten A Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Threats Several life history traits of goliathgrouper make the species particularly vulnerable to the pressure of overfishing. These traits include late sexual maturity, large and predictable spawning aggregations in shallow inshore waters, and strong refuge site fidelity.
For example, found approximately two hours north of Ten A Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Tampa Bay is one of the largest ports in the United States. It is estimated that over the past 100 years the area has lost over 44% of its mangroves and salt marshes due to heavy human development and traffic.
Coral reefs are susceptible to degradation through natural factors including hurricanes, El Niño events, and diseases. Reefs are also degraded through human action such as overfishing, damaging fishing practices, development, pollution, ocean acidification, and irresponsible tourism.
Once abundant and growing to massive, reproductively mature sizes, goliathgrouper have suffered significant population declines attributed to overfishing and habitat loss. While the species is showing clear signs of recovery in South Florida, the true status of the population remains uncertain.
Based on recovery trends throughout the past decade, goliathgrouper are no longer classified as a species of concern in U.S. waters. Yet, goliathgrouper remain vulnerable to the pressures of overfishing and habitat loss as the long-lived species slowly rebuilds.
The once common Nassau grouper (Epimetheus stratus) and goliathgrouper (E. Tamara) have been so depleted that they are under complete protection from the South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. 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 goliathgrouper.
This goliathgrouper 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 goliathgrouper 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 goliathgrouper. 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.
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 goliathgrouper (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 goliathgrouper assessment for the continental U.S. population.
Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Performed Family: Serranidae Subfamily: Epinephrine Genus: Epimetheus Species: Binomial name Epimetheus quinquefasciatus Synonyms Serra nus quinquefasciatus Court, 1868 Islam Cocos SUR, Panama The Pacific goliathgrouper has a robust, oblong body.
The margin of the properly has fine serrations and an angled edge. The head and body are gray or greenish marked with pale blotches and small dark spots which are scattered over the upper head and body, as well as being on the pectoral fins.
Subadult fish which are less than 100 centimeters (39 in) in length are overall greenish to tawny brown with diagonal, irregular darker brown bars on the body and caudal fin. The juveniles have heavy spotting on the head, the portrayed part of the dorsal fin and the pectoral, pelvic, and caudal fins, They have 5 diagonal black bars on the body which reach onto the dorsal and anal fins and there is a black bar on base of the caudal fin.
This is one of the largest species of grouper, attaining a maximum total length of 250 centimeters (98 in). The Pacific goliathgrouper is found on offshore rocky reefs as adults, although it has also been recorded in inshore areas.
The juveniles inhabit mangroves, estuaries, lagoons and bays. It has been recorded feeding on sharks, rays, crustaceans, cephalopods, other fishes and even sea snakes and mammals.
Little is known about its biology but it is thought to be similar to the Atlantic goliathgrouper. The Pacific goliathgrouper is a sought after quarry species for recreational and commercial fisheries in the entirety of its range.
It has declined over much of its range, and, in Colombia smaller Goliath groupers of lengths less than 30 centimeters (12 in) are regarded as the most valuable. This leads fishermen to target small and sexually immature groupers which threatens the local survival of the species by taking the fish they get an opportunity to reproduce.
^ Scholar, W. N.; R. Cricket & R. van der Loan (eds.). “ Groupers of the world (family Serranidae, subfamily Epinephrine).
Goliath Pacific groupers under threat in a biodiversity hotspot”. On August 26th, Joshua Anyzeski caught the prohibited species, removing it from the water to take a picture.
The picture circulated on social media, which tipped off officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Underwater photograph taken at the Cab Pull Marine Reserve, East Cape, Baja California Sur, August 2003.
Mark commented: We sighted this huge fish at a dive site called Las Capital. The Pacific GoliathGrouper, Epimetheus quinquefasciatus, is a member of the Grouper or Epinephelidae Family, that is known in Mexico as hero gig ante.
Globally, there are 100 species in the genus Epimetheus, of which 11 are found in Mexican waters, 6 in the Atlantic and 5 in the Pacific Ocean. Specimens less than 1.0 m (3 feet 3 inches) in length are a greenish-brown color with a series of oblique dark brown bars along their sides.
Larger fish are gray-green with a series of pale blotches and smaller dark brown spots scattered over their upper body, head, and pectoral fins. They are highly territorial and feed predominately on crustaceans and lobsters, sea turtles, stingrays, and small fish.
The Pacific Goliath Groupers is a resident of Mexican waters of the Pacific but has a limited distribution being found from Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, southward along the southwest coast of Baa, in the lower two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala. From a conservation perspective the Pacific GoliathGrouper is currently considered to be Data Deficient and have not been formally evaluated.
However, they are a major target of both commercial and recreational fishermen and due to this intense fishing pressure, they have undergone severe population reductions over the past 30 years. Contributing to the demise of this species is the fact that small individuals, landed only occasionally, fetch high market prices.