The range of the GoliathGrouper encompasses the Western Atlantic (from Florida to Brazil, including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico), the Eastern Atlantic (from Senegal to Congo) and the eastern Pacific (from the Gulf of California to Peru). Goliath groupers have been fished both commercially and recreationally since the late 1800s; their flesh is said to be of very high quality.
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). Mercury and histopathology of the vulnerable goliathgrouper, Epimetheus Tamara, in U.S. waters: A multi-tissue approach.
Age, growth, and mortality of the Atlantic goliathgrouper Epimetheus Tamara in French Guiana. 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.
Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Performed Family: Serranidae Subfamily: Epinephrine Genus: Epimetheus Species: Binomial name Epimetheus Tamara Synonyms Promiscuous Tamara (Lichtenstein, 1822) Serra nus Tamara Lichtenstein, 1822 Serra nus Menelik Valentines, 1828 Serra nus gales J.P. Müller & Trochee, 1848 Serra nus guava Play, 1860 Promiscuous one Ehrenberg, 1915 Promiscuous ditto Roux & Collision, 1954 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.
^ Lovato, Cleo nice Maria Cardozo; Soars, Bruno Clears; Begot, Tiago Octavio Buffalo; Montage, Luciano Coach de Assis (January 2016). “Tidal pools as habitat for juveniles of the Goliath grouper Epimetheus Tamara (Lichtenstein 1822) in the Amazonian coastal zone, Brazil”.
Risky, Delaney C.; Bakenhaster, Micah D.; Adams, Douglas H. (2015). “ Pseudorhabdosynochus species (Monogenoidea, Diplectanidae) parasitizing groupers (Serranidae, Epinephrine, Epinephrine) in the western Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters, with descriptions of 13 new species”.
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).