Reserve your spot to dive with the groupers early as our trips are filling fast. It’s friendly demeanor and curiosity gets you within arms reach of it many times.
Now multiply this encounter by sixty plus and you are experiencing the best goliathgrouper diving anywhere in the world. Palm Beach, Florida is hands down the best place to be if you want to see these leviathans in all their splendor.
The wrecks in Palm Beach are the perfect hangout for these behemoth fish. Today’s morning trip included a stop at this great series of wrecks in search of the Goliath groupers.
Easily outweighing and almost out sizing the divers, these large sea bass (the largest of their kind in the world) are actually quite timid. Getting close takes a little time for them to build the confidence to approach you.
Chase them and you’ll be doing nothing more than getting tail shots of these fish and running low on your air supply quickly. Sitting back and letting their curiosity get the better of them is the best recipe for those closeup shots.
Sea turtles, rays, and countless fish live around these wrecks. With today’s ideal conditions and 3-4 dozen Goliath groupers to keep us in a constant state of awe, it is easy to understand why a few of us decided to do a second dive on the same wreck while the other divers were at a nearby reef.
If the photos from today’s dive don’t convince you, then make sure to check out the recent article written in the National Geographic Magazine about the Goliath groupers. The Goliath groupers normally stick around, with their numbers increasing throughout the months, until October.
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Ever catch yourself in the middle of a giant fish mating fest? These fish are called goliathgrouper, and they’re listed as an endangered species in the United States.
Often roaming the depths of dive sites in South Florida and beyond, goliathgrouper are a sight to behold when spotted. Like we said, goliathgrouper are frequently spotted inhabiting the depths off of Florida’s coast.
Hundreds of the travel great distances to Jupiter for a two-month-long mating session! Oxford Dictionary Fortunately for scuba divers, we become the beneficiaries of such a magnificent moment in nature.
Most dive shops in town craft their daily trips around visiting the grouper hotspots. To experience the aggregations in their full force, you must dive in August and September.
The streamlined check-in, laser-focused approach, informative briefings, and knowledgeable Captain and crew blew us away. We’ll be diving with them every time we visit the Jupiter area, and we highly recommend you do, as well.
As for the day itself, the general structure of the trip consists of two different dive sites. The first, a drift dive on a shipwreck featuring the main event: goliathgrouper.
The second, a drift dive on a vibrant coral reef serving as home to sea turtles, sharks, and some truly amazing ocean animals. Which site you visit, the Wreck Trek or MG-111, is entirely dependent on the Captain, conditions, and availability (our friends at Emerald Charters and their shark diving operation seem to ruffle some feathers by snatching up sites).
The current was insane, so we actually held onto structures waving like flagpoles in the wind. After drifting through the entire shipwreck we entered an area known as Warrior Reef.
It’s essentially a group of pillars that goliathgrouper are keen to surround. After leaving Warrior Reef you’ll find yourself in sand for as far as the eye can see.
Visiting with hundreds of some of the biggest fish in the world is a truly awe-inspiring experience. Visit in August or September to enjoy the Goliath grouper aggregations fully.
That audible bark is meant to deter you from coming any closer. Jupiter Dive Center is a top-notch operation that we personally book trips with.
The closest airports are West Palm Beach (PBI) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Book a Place to Stay: Booking.com is a great resource to compare hotels and guesthouses.
At times, these giant fish gather in groups of up to 100 in one specific area, most often on a wreck or sheltered reef. Goliath groupers are the largest predatory, reef-dwelling fish species in the Caribbean, weighing as much as 660 pounds (300 kg) when fully grown.
Game fishermen in the 20th century hunted them to such extremes that the species was near extinction along the Florida coastline by the 1990s. Those attempting to spot them in typical dive locations off the Palm Beach coast will be disappointed.
Depending on the year, goliathgrouper numbers fluctuate between the different wrecks, with some enjoy a higher concentration than others. Due to their sheer size, Goliath groupers often intimidate divers in the water.
Divers who approach the fish should remain calm, not chase them, and swim slowly to avoid spooking them. Following those rules and visiting the right sites at the right time of the year means a good chance to see one of the ocean’s truly spectacular spawning events.
A Pad MST instructor, Chris graduated from university in 2016 with a degree in film and journalism. His documentary depicting the adapting generation of whale hunters on the island of PICO won a Royal Television Award in 2017.
In the eastern Atlantic, it occurs along West Africa from Senegal to Cabinet, Angola (for map and countries see IUCN Red List Assessment). Species Summary : The goliathgrouper is widely distributed and inhabits hard reef structure and mangrove areas.
Both juveniles and adults occupy home range areas, within which they exhibit some degree of territoriality, displaying to intruders with an open mouth, a quivering body and a booming sound generated by muscular contractions of the swim bladder. The species reproduces in small (fewer than about 150 adults) aggregations at the same locations, including shipwrecks, each year, generally from August to mid-October (with some temporal variation) in relatively shallow (10-50 m) waters.
Adults can migrate up to 500 km from areas of residence to spawning sites, as determined from tagging studies. Unlike many other groupers, this species appears to be gonochoristic (separate sexes), although its sexual pattern has yet to be studied in detail.
During the spawning aggregations, which can be dramatic with large numbers of large fish gathering in a small area, and are attractive to divers who are willing to pay to visit them, males and females interact and are often readily filmed and photographed. Fisheries : Abundance is substantially reduced from former levels throughout the geographic range of the species, according to available information.
In Florida, overfishing by commercial and recreational fishermen occurred rapidly because the characteristics of these fish–their longevity, aggregating behavior and sedentary nature, combined with technological advances in positioning gear over the last 30 years–made them particularly vulnerable to fishing pressure. In South Brazil, historically present aggregations, once with least 60 individuals, have dwindled to only a dozen fish, according to local knowledge.
Management/Conservation: A fishing moratorium has been in place in U.S. waters for the past 27 years, and the population has been mostly increasing as a result, although it is not yet fully recovered. In Brazil, a fishing ban has been in place since 2002; however, due to lack of enforcement in most areas there is no sign of recovery, while removal and/or degradation of mangroves across the species range is a major threat to juvenile survival.
In the U.S. other threats include reduced genetic diversity, health stresses caused by high mercury concentrations and localized recruitment failures caused by extreme red tide and cold water events in juvenile habitat. Nonetheless, there are signs of growth in both juvenile and adult populations, following protection, with one aggregation off the southeast Florida coast that existed at least since the 1960s and disappeared in the 1980s, reappearing in 2005 with about 65 individuals.
The problem of overfishing is intensified by the pressure exerted on juveniles, known as mates ”, which fishers do not recognize as having the same protected status as adults. Due to increases in goliathgrouper abundance, there is pressure in the U.S. from some commercial and recreational fishers to reopen its fishery.
Regarding use and protection of this species, there is an interesting discussion regarding the human relationship with this (and similar charismatic megafauna), especially threatened species that were once heavily exploited regarding whether they should be exploited, and if so to what extent; interesting discussions on this issue are available in the papers cited by Mazzini et al. (2019); Koenig et al. (2019) and Chiseler et al. (2016) (see below). Also, recent campaigns to raise awareness about the endangered condition and protected status of the species are increasing (e.g. www.merosdobrasil.org).
Age, growth, and mortality of the Atlantic goliathgrouper Epimetheus Tamara in French Guiana. Buena, L.S., Bernini, A.A., Koenig, C.C., Coleman, F.C., Fracas, M.O., Late, J.R., DE Souza, T.F.
Evidence for spawning aggregations of the endangered Atlantic goliathgrouper Epimetheus Tamara in southern Brazil. Regional age structure, reproductive biology and trophic patterns of adult GoliathGrouper in Florida.
Koenig, C.C., Buena, L.S., Coleman, F.C., Cu sick, J.A., Ellis, R.D., Klingon, K., Location, J.V., Malinowski, C., Marie, D.J. Died, lunar, and seasonal spawning patterns of the Atlantic goliathgrouper, Epimetheus Tamara, off Florida, United States.
From sea monsters to charismatic megafauna: Changes in perception and use of large marine animals. Recreational diver willingness to pay for goliathgrouper encounters during the months of their spawning aggregation off eastern Florida, USA.
Assessing Fishing Experts’ Knowledge to Improve Conservation Strategies for an Endangered Grouper in the Southwestern Atlantic.