So now that we’ve established their impressive size, it’s easy to question why in the hell a spear fishermen would get so close to one out in open water. It's a fish that can reach the size of a grizzly bear, and it's loved by divers and despised by many fishermen.
The goliathgrouper, 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.
Known until 2001 by the politically incorrect name “Jewish,” the goliathgrouper 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. “The spawning aggregations of these huge fish have grown in the past decade and divers now come from all over the world to see the magic, which in turn supports ecotourism in Florida,” she said in comment emailed to the Sun-Sentinel.
To allow a harvest of these beautiful creatures, especially in the face of the prevailing scientific evidence, would be folly and do real damage to local ecosystems and economies.” While diving in 80-foot deep waters off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, spear fisherman Arif Saber had a standoff with a seemingly fearless and ferocious goliathgrouper, which Grind TV estimated was 300- to 400-pounds.
Saber had just caught a lesser amber jack with his spearfish gun, he told Grind TV, when he noticed the large grouper eyeing him and closing the distance in between them. 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.
The Atlantic goliathgrouper or Tamara (Epimetheus Tamara), also known as the Jewish, is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m (16 to 164 ft). Its range includes the Florida Keys in the US, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean and most of the Brazilian coast.
On some occasions, it is caught off the coasts of the US states of New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.
Young Atlantic Goliath groupers may live in brackish estuaries, oyster beds, canals, and mangrove swamps, which is unusual behavior among groupers. They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and can weigh as much as 360 kg (790 lb).
The world record for a hook-and-line-captured specimen is 308.44 kg (680.0 lb), caught off Fernanda Beach, Florida, in 1961. Considered of fine food quality, Atlantic goliathgrouper were a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen.
It is a relatively easy prey for spear fishermen because of the grouper's inquisitive and generally fearless nature. They also tend to spawn in large aggregations, returning annually to the same locations.
This makes them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting while breeding. Until a harvest ban was placed on the species, its population was in rapid decline.
The fish is recognized as “vulnerable” globally and “endangered” in the Gulf of Mexico. The species' population has been recovering since the ban; with the fish's slow growth rate, however, some time will be needed for populations to return to their previous levels.
Goliath groupers are believed to be protogynous hermaphrodites, which refer to organisms that are born female and at some point in their lifespans change sex to male. Males can be sexually mature at about 115 centimeters (45 in), and ages 4–6 years.
In May 2015, the Atlantic goliathgrouper was successfully bred in captivity for the first time. Tidal pools act as nurseries for juvenile E. Tamara.
In tidal pools juvenile E.Tamara are able to utilize rocky crevices for shelter. Besides shelter, tidal pools provide E. Tamara with plenty of prey such as lobster and porcelain crab.
The Atlantic goliathgrouper has historically been referred to as the “Jewish”. It may have referred to the fish's status as inferior leading it to be declared only suitable for Jews, or the flesh having a “clean” taste comparable to kosher food ; it has also been suggested that this name is simply a corruption of jaw fish or the Italian word for “bottom fish”, Giuseppe.
In 2001, the American Fisheries Society stopped using the term because of complaints that it was culturally insensitive. Age, Growth, and Reproduction of Jewish Epimetheus Tamara in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Pseudorhabdosynochus species (Monogenoidea, Diplectanidae) parasitizing groupers (Serranidae, Epinephrine, Epinephrine) in the western Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters, with descriptions of 13 new species”. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Epimetheus Tamara.
Goliath and other larger grouper, however, have tougher meat that is best used in chowders and stews. While Goliath grouper can only be caught and released in the United States, there are many Asian countries that allow free-for-all fishing of these whoppers.
Remove the scales of the fish on both sides by sliding the knife from the head, below the gills all the way down to the tail. Cut down the backbone of the fish, reaching the blade halfway through.
That’s like a silver back gorilla that can swim, only with less hair and a severely diminished tree-swinging ability. While Goliath groupers really aren’t any danger to humans, they will pretty much take what ever they want, like that fat bully that shoves kids into lockers and takes their money, then goes home and cries because he’s lonely.
Being extremely large saltwater fish, Goliath Groupers are found in shallow tropical waters abundant with coral and artificial reefs. The fish’s meat contains high levels of methyl mercury making it unfit for human consumption.
Goliath Groupers are found in the eastern as well as western Atlantic Ocean. In the western half, they exist in the waters of the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and the coast of Brazil.
Goliath Groupers can grow as big as 8.2 feet in length, and half as wide. these fish could either be dull green or gray, or dark yellow to brown.
Goliath Groupers are known by several names including, Atlantic GoliathGrouper, Black Bass, One Grouper, Giant Sea bass, Guava, Hamlet, Jew fish, and Southern/Spotted Jew fish. Juveniles are just 2.5 cm long and prefer settling into mangrove habitats.
These fish were considered a delicacy prior to receiving a critically endangered status. scientists believe that Goliath Groupers have a very long lifespan, and they may live for even a hundred years.
This is because, these fish make a peculiar booming sound (something like that of a bass drum) which can not only be heard but felt as well. These vocalizations are normally termed as barks; they are either used to communicate or to warn intruders trying to access their territories.
Also, they don’t move a lot and are always glued to reefs, corals, and rocks in shallow waters, except during the spawning season. This refers to organisms who are born female and undergo a sexual transformation at some point later in their lives.
the GoliathGrouper was traditionally referred to as Jewish (as mentioned before), but the American Fisheries Society banned the use of this term (in 2001) as it sounded culturally insensitive.