Scientists estimate that historical overfishing decreased our numbers by about 80%, and it’s been a long road to recovery. After they’re fertilized, the eggs drift around in the currents until they finally hatch.
Photo courtesy Oaths large, solitary fish will defend its territory when threatened, with aggressive body language and a rumbling sound it makes with its swim bladder. Its large, thick, elongated body can grow to over 8 feet long (and up to 800 pounds), from rounded snout and small eyes, to short, fan-like tail fin.
Usually it is a mottled yellow-brown to gray with darker bard and spots, ideal for blending in to their rocky coral and muddy inshore habitat. Other names are Baden (Portuguese), campus (Portuguese), hernia gig ante (Italian), China (Spanish), group (Portuguese), gran morgue (Iranian), guava (Spanish), data (Japanese), harbor (Norwegian), havsabborre (Swedish), Tamara Vienna (Polish), Judaism (Norwegian), hero guava (Spanish), hero (French), orphan (Turkish), raitameriahven (Finnish), Sophos (Greek), scarring (Italian), tip (Palikir), Atari (Icelandic), and zackenbarsch (German).
A 450 pound goliathgrouper caught by Buddy Junks at the Big Indian Rocks Fishing Pier, Florida (1976). Photo courtesy Kenneth Krzysztof historical importance to commercial fisheries, the goliathgrouper has also long been prized by recreational and sport fishers.
Spear fishers find this fish easy to approach; hence in locations accessible to divers their numbers have declined. The large size, slow growth, low reproductive rate, and spawning behavior have made the goliathgrouper especially susceptible to overfishing.
The goliathgrouper is totally protected from harvest and is recognized as a “Critically Endangered” species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Furthermore, the IUCN concludes that the species has been “observed, estimated, inferred or suspected” of a reduction of at least 80% over the last 10 years or three generations.
Historical exploitation of goliathgrouper annual spawning aggregation sites greatly reduced the number of reproductive adults. Occurring in shallow, inshore waters to depths of 150 feet (46 m), the goliathgrouper prefers areas of rock, coral, and mud bottoms.
It is territorial near areas of refuge such as caves, wrecks, and ledges, displaying an open mouth and quivering body to intruders. Additional warning may be delivered in the form of the goliathgrouper ’s ability to produce a distinctly audible rumbling sound generated by the muscular contraction of the swim bladder.
Photo courtesy NOAA Distinctive Features Goliath grouper are the largest members of the sea bass family in the Atlantic Ocean. Coloration This fish is generally brownish yellow, gray, or olive with small dark spots on head, body, and fins.
The presence of a number of short weakly developed canine teeth is useful in distinguishing this species from other North Atlantic groupers. Photo © Don Maria Size, Age, and Growth The goliathgrouper is the largest grouper in the western Atlantic.
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. Photo © Don Maria Food Habits Goliath grouper feed largely on crustaceans (in particular spiny lobsters, shrimps and crabs), fishes (including stingrays and parrot fishes), octopus, and young sea turtles.
However, the significance of this finding is of diminished value when one considers that transitional individuals are known to be rare amongst confirmed species of protogynous hermaphrodites, such as the red grouper (Epimetheus Mario) and gag (Mycteroperca microbes). Photo courtesy National Marine Fisheries Service In support of the notion that the species is a protogynous hermaphrodite is the fact that the largest Goliath groupers are invariably male. Spawning occurs during the summer months of July, August, and September throughout the goliathgrouper ’s range and is strongly influenced by the lunar cycle.
Ship wrecks, rock ledges, and isolated patch reefs are preferred spawning habitat. In the 1980s these aggregations reached a low of less than 10 individuals per site as fishing pressure greatly impacted this species.
Since receiving legislative protection the spawning aggregations of goliathgrouper have risen to 20-40 individuals per location. These pelagic larvae transform into benthic juveniles at lengths of one inch (2.5 cm), around 25 or 26 days after hatching.
In an 1884 work, “The fishes of the Florida Keys,” David Starr Jordan proposed the inclusion of the goliathgrouper in Epimetheus (Bloch 1793) and this combination remains in use today. Of incidental note is the fact that various authors have incorrectly spelled the specific epithet “Tamara” as “tiara.” The genus name comes from the Greek epinephelos translated as cloudy.
A number of authors treat the name Promiscuous Tamara as valid taxonomy for the goliathgrouper. The Ten A Thousand Islands area of Southwest Florida is one of few locations in the world where goliathgrouper have reestablished a viable population.
Read below to learn more about goliathgrouper, the history of its declining and recovering population, and how you can get involved as fisheries scientists continue to research and manage this species. Juvenile Goliath are typically more brown or tan with a more noticeable pattern of dark, blotched, vertical lines.
Once they reach reproductive age, goliathgrouper form large aggregations of 100 or more individuals during the summer spawning months of July, August, and September. These aggregations gather at shallow ledge or shoreline sites such as the mangrove forests of Ten A Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Threats Several life history traits of goliathgrouper make the species particularly vulnerable to the pressure of overfishing. These traits include late sexual maturity, large and predictable spawning aggregations in shallow inshore waters, and strong refuge site fidelity.
For example, found approximately two hours north of Ten A Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Tampa Bay is one of the largest ports in the United States. It is estimated that over the past 100 years the area has lost over 44% of its mangroves and salt marshes due to heavy human development and traffic.
Coral reefs are susceptible to degradation through natural factors including hurricanes, El Niño events, and diseases. Reefs are also degraded through human action such as overfishing, damaging fishing practices, development, pollution, ocean acidification, and irresponsible tourism.
Once abundant and growing to massive, reproductively mature sizes, goliathgrouper have suffered significant population declines attributed to overfishing and habitat loss. While the species is showing clear signs of recovery in South Florida, the true status of the population remains uncertain.
Based on recovery trends throughout the past decade, goliathgrouper are no longer classified as a species of concern in U.S. waters. Yet, goliathgrouper remain vulnerable to the pressures of overfishing and habitat loss as the long-lived species slowly rebuilds.
One of the tastiest and most famous fish of the sea, GoliathGrouper, is the largest form of the species of Grouper. These fishes weigh up to 900 pounds, making them very difficult to catch.
Red Grouper : These fishes are found in and around the Florida coasts. These fishes prefer to live in rocky areas where there are a lot of holes and caves.
They use these caves and holes to make it their home and hide if they sense any form of danger. These fishes are very lonely and prefer to live in very deep waters, from 20 to 200 meters.
They are massive and very strong, with some fishes being a meter in length and 300kgs in weight. They are known to have big mouths with very distinct lips and brown bodies with white spots.
They have very powerful jaws, which they used to hunt small fishes and octopuses for their food. Harvesting, it means that you cannot kill them since they are a federally protected species.
Now the thing is, due to their size and difficulty to catch them, more often than not, when you manage to catch them, the pressure created due to their size and strength of their resistance, can break their skeletal system and hence killing them. During winter, ranging from September to March is the perfect time to fish groupers.
That is because, during the summer, they usually reside deep in some cave or hole underwater. Due to their size and strength, conventional fishing techniques cannot be used to catch a GoliathGrouper.
When you go to buy a lure, you must check if it is ideal for deep trolling or not. This kind of trolling with lures like butterfly jigs, feathers, or anything which can mimic a shellfish can attract a Grouper and is very effective.
This is very effective because, once the Grouper comes out of its shelter to take a bite, they are so far off their home that once caught, and they cannot swim back in. Frozen and natural baits such as squids, sardines, pinkish, grunts, blue runners, white mullet, squirrel fish, etc.
If you use light or less strong tackles, there will be chances to break off, which will be a problem for both you and the fish. When it comes to line and fishing Goliath Groupers, you must use monofilament instead of braid.
Goliath Groupers are caught using live or dead bait with an artificial lure. These fishes are very strong and are keen to hide in their homes when they sense danger.
To do that, you just anchor somewhat close to a cave, wreck, or reef where groupers usually reside. Now all you have to do is to bounce off your bait the bottom so that these fishes can hear the sound.
Make sure you do not anchor too far away from the reefs to prevent the Goliath Groupers from returning to their home because if you are too far, they will never come out to your lure. Many factors go into catching a Goliath grouper, but technique, equipment, and intelligence are the most important aspects.
Now, what are you waiting for, go get the right equipment and take a buddy, because trust us you will need the additional strength, and go off to the nearby reef and catch a GoliathGrouper ! Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing.