A Key West college student learned a hard lesson about Florida wildlife law this week, police said. Joshua David Anyzeski, 18, was jailed Monday after state fish and wildlife officers said he removed a Goliath grouper from the water, so he could pose for a photo with it.
He was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of possession of a Goliath grouper, booked into the Stock Island Detention Center and released the same day after posting a $7,500 bond. A Key West college student got arrested after sharing this photo with friends in a group text.
“The lagoon is a classroom space where we teach diving and marine science classes,” said Amber Ernst-Leonard, the college’s spokeswoman. Anyzeski got in trouble after sending the photo of him holding the Goliath grouper to friends in a group text to brag about snagging the fish, according to the report.
On Aug. 28, FCC investigators went to Anyzeski’s dorm room at the College of the Florida Keys to speak with him about the photo. Asked if Anyzeski is in trouble with the school for the catch, Ernst-Leonard said the college does not comment on student disciplinary cases.
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.
The GoliathGrouper was in serious decline due to overfishing until the 1990s when they were classified as critically endangered, and all harvesting worldwide was banned. GoliathGrouper eat young sea turtles, fish and shrimp, for the main part.
Young grouper commonly hang out together, inhabiting the mangrove swamps and estuaries, where they find suitable food sources in Key West. As a bottom dweller, Goliath's tend to hang out around reefs, wreck sites and coral ledges, as they like to reside in shallow water up to a depth of around 165 feet.
GoliathGrouper, due to their incredibly large size, have been the target of avid sports fishermen for decades; they were also rumored to be a restaurant-quality fish desired by seafood aficionados. Since Goliath Groupers tended to spawn in large groups, this made them easy prey for mass hunting.
The giant GoliathGrouper is arguably the most dramatic member of the Grouper family, and large mature specimens are kings of the reef, with no natural predators. The GoliathGrouper is the largest member of the sea bass family found in the western Atlantic, reaching weights of 800 lbs.
Its body is elongated but robust, with the widest point measuring more than half the fish’s total length. Goliath's are generally brownish yellow, gray, or olive-colored, with small dark spots on head, body, and fins.
GoliathGrouper Habitat and Behavior Goliath Groupers range the shallow, inshore tropical waters of the western Atlantic Ocean from Florida through the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, and south along nearly the entire Brazilian coastline. Goliath Groupers typically inhabit natural and artificial reefs in water depths of 16 to 160 feet.
They prefer areas that have rock, coral, and mud bottoms along with high-relief features such as ledges, caves, and holes that can provide refuge. The Goliath is one of the few groupers that inhabit brackish waters, with juveniles commonly found around mangroves and in estuaries, especially near oyster bars.
Goliath Groupers are solitary fish and adults are territorial near their areas of refuge, displaying an open mouth and quivering body to intruders and sometimes producing an audible rumbling sound via muscular contractions of the swim bladder. Goliath Groupers are ambush feeders that prey mostly on crustaceans such as spiny lobsters, shrimps, and crabs.
The difference with the Goliath is that specialized ultra-heavy tackle will be needed if there is to be any chance of bringing a fish boat side. The Facebook posts show a protected Goliath grouper being filleted, a batch of undersized lobster on the grill and an undersized nurse shark placed in a swimming pool that is treated with chlorine at his vacation rental in Marathon, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
State fish and wildlife police arrested a man they said killed a federally protected Goliath grouper while on vacation in the Florida Keys in August 2020. In this screenshot, the man is seen with a Goliath grouper, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Garrison told police he didn’t know the big fish he filleted was a Goliath grouper, a species that has been protected in state and federal waters off Florida since 1990. A young boy dives and grabs the nurse shark and brings it to a man on the deck, who shows it to some people.
“The shark is extremely sluggish and close to near death,” the FCC report states. After watching the nurse shark video, Dire checked out the rest of Garrison’s Keys posts and said he found evidence of the lobster and Goliath grouper violations.
She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina.