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Goliath Grouper Endangered

author
Maria Garcia
• Sunday, 18 October, 2020
• 8 min read

It lives in shallow tropical waters at small depths that range from 16 to 164 feet (5 – 50 meters) among coral and artificial reefs. The Atlantic goliathgrouper can grow until it reaches approximately 8.2 ft (2.5 m) long and it weighs about 790 lb (360 kg).

grouper goliath endangered florida critically protect save killing ocean mission
(Source: mission-blue.org)

Contents

Although the Atlantic goliathgrouper seems to be scary for its large size and even wide mouth, it is not extremely dangerous but it is courageous. Being fearless and delicious at the same time is not good for this fish as these two factors are the main reasons behind making it highly sought after by fishermen and thus harvesting it in large numbers.

Treating this fish in such a cruel way was the main reason behind making it endangered and this is why it was necessary to protect it and entirely ban harvesting it. The Atlantic goliathgrouper is fearless which means that it is not scared easily and this is why it attacks different creatures in the sea even divers and the 11 feet lemon sharks.

When you think of the largest fish in the ocean, images of sharks, marlins and even tuna probably come to mind first. Another one you’d be wise to start considering is the Atlantic goliathgrouper, a huge saltwater fish that leisurely swims in reefs and mangroves between North Carolina and Brazil, and also those along the West African coast.

Goliath groupers, which mostly feed on crustaceans and smaller fish, have been known to weigh in at over 700 pounds. Atlantic GoliathGrouper, by Albert KOK via Creative CommonsDuring a recent visit to the Georgia Aquarium, a guide was sharing interesting facts about the “Tropical Diver” exhibit.

This species is deemed critically endangered by the IUCN because of its reproductive issues (slow growth, late sexual maturity) and overfishing. Groups like Florida State University’s Coleman & Keening Laboratory are promoting mangrove protection and trying to shift the public’s perception of the goliathgrouper as being nothing more than a big, lazy nuisance.

goliath groupers grouper florida endangered critically protect killing mission mag stearns walt
(Source: mission-blue.org)

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).

grouper goliath florida endangered fish groupers scuba critically killing protect fishing mission diving underwater sea monster stearns walt
(Source: mission-blue.org)

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.

This project would not have been possible without ongoing collaboration with researchers from Florida State University, Everglades National Park, and the recreational fishing and SCUBA diving communities. The GoliathGrouper, Epimetheus Tamara, is the largest grouper found in the North Atlantic.

The aggregation of large numbers of the fish in a small area during the spawning season attracted commercial and sports fishermen to the species. With fishing no longer affecting its numbers, scientists searched for other potential threats to the goliathgrouper.

Mosquito control measures and water drainage projects in the Everglades have both impacted heavily on the Florida mangrove swamps. The loss of the waterways making up part of its nursery will not aid in the recovery of goliathgrouper numbers.

A rapid increase in dinoflagellates of the species Karina breves is responsible for the marked color change of the sea. As well as changing the color of seawater, Karina breves produces a neurotoxin, called breve toxin, which is deadly to many fish.

grouper goliath giant fish shark endangered species massive most dangerous atlantic jewfish key largo diver know need types ocean
(Source: bestreviewof.com)

They are the largest resident fish in their habitats and play a key role in maintaining fisheries productivity and ecosystem stability. The largest Atlantic GoliathGrouper of up to 2 meters inhabit deeper offshore waters where there are ledges or reefs to provide caves and shelter.

In any case the Atlantic GoliathGrouper warrants total protection throughout Belize as part of an ongoing program for its sustainable management. There are major opportunities with the sustainable management of the Atlantic GoliathGrouper for public education concerning marine systems and their value, and for the involvement of those in fisheries, tourism, and of volunteers.

These opportunities occur during early information gathering and fostering public support, through implementing protection measures, research projects, and eventually the viability and economic values of diving tourism, as well as recreational and commercial fisheries. A working group and research team to gather and publish information and to reach out for sustainable management including the total protection of the Atlantic GoliathGrouper in Belize should be established.

The brothers love host Josh Jorgensen’s high energy and knack for reeling in the big ones. The Pointers reeled in some rare, large fish, including an extremely endangeredGoliathgrouper, weighing 400 pounds.

Robert Poitier surprised his boys with a trip to fish with Jorgensen over the summer. The family from Georgia flew into West Palm Beach and spent two days out on the water where they snagged the catch of a lifetime.

grouper goliath florida endangered critically protect killing areas mission protected marine macwilliams wayne
(Source: mission-blue.org)

Thirty to forty Goliath groupers under the boat,” Poitier excitedly explained. 10-year-old Max Poitier with his first catch, a 250-pound Goliath grouper. His little brother and dad weren’t to be left out.

Brendan shows off his Goliath grouper. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, Goliath groupers are the largest members of the sea bass family. “Catch and release is a great conservation strategy, but simply letting a fish go does not guarantee it will live,” NOAA says on its website.

It is also present in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, including the Florida Keys and Cuba. Black groupers are found mainly on rocky bottoms and in coral reef environments.

Juvenile black groupers are also found in seagrass beds off of the coast of Florida. Adult black grouper feed primarily on other smaller reef fishes, including grunts, snapper, and herrings.

Smaller fish are much lighter and have numerous dark brown or charcoal kiss-like marks along the sides. The Scamp and black grouper closely resemble the gag and often occur in the same habitat.

grouper goliath diver scuba endangered epinephelus alamy protected fl itajara
(Source: www.alamy.com)

They are predators of round scad, sardines, porgies, snappers, grunts, crabs, shrimp and squid. Spawning takes place in February off the coast of the Carolina's and in January through March in the Gulf of Mexico.

Goliath (Tamara) The goliathgrouper occurs in the western Atlantic Ocean from Florida south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Occurring in shallow, inshore waters to depths of 150 feet, the goliathgrouper prefers areas of rock, coral, and mud bottoms.

Strikingly patterned juveniles inhabit mangroves and brackish estuaries, especially near oyster bars. It is territorial near areas of refuge such as caves, wrecks, and ledges, displaying an open mouth and quivering body to intruders.

Bases of the soft dorsal and anal fins are covered with scales and thick skin. The presence of a number of short weakly developed canine teeth is useful in distinguishing this species from other North Atlantic groupers.

However, this specimen was sampled from a population of individuals depressed by fishing pressure and it is projected that goliathgrouper may live much longer, perhaps as much as 50 years. Occurs in the Gulf of Mexico in limited locations including the Yucatán, Tortuga's, and Key West.

grouper goliath endangered
(Source: www.sciencephoto.com)

This grouper is common on offshore rocky bottoms and coral reefs throughout the Caribbean region. They occur at a depth range extending to at least 295 feet, preferring to rest near or close to the bottom.

Juveniles are found closer to shore in seagrass beds that offer a suitable nursery habitat. These teeth are not used to tear flesh as with the barracudas and sharks, but rather to prevent small fish from escaping.

Growing to a maximum of 4 feet and weighing over 50 pounds, this grouper is one of the largest fish on the reef. As a carnivorous predator, the Nassau grouper has a diet that consists mainly of fish, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, and octopuses.

Prey fish include parrot fishes, wrasses, damsel fishes, squirrel fishes, snappers, and grunts. This clever fish patiently waits in hiding, utilizing its ability to camouflage, until it pounces on its prey.

By opening its mouth and dilating the gill covers to draw water in, groupers generally engulf their prey hole in one quick motion.

grouper goliath endangered
(Source: sciencephoto.com)

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Sources
1 myfwc.com - https://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/regulations/faq/
2 bassfishingfl.com - https://bassfishingfl.com/questions-and-answers/
3 myfwc.com - https://myfwc.com/license/recreational/faqs/
4 www.visitflorida.com - https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/things-to-do/florida-fishing/florida-fishing-rules-regulations.html
5 charterfishindestin.com - https://charterfishindestin.com/frequently-asked-questions