I brought with me my automatic Nikon camera encased in a plastic casing to make it water-resistant as taking pictures is a pleasure for me each time I travel. I grabbed the camera hanging by a tough nylon string around my wrist, and took a video of the Goliath grouper following my buddy.
Despite the huge size of the Goliath grouper, they seem to be docile fishes although there are reports that they do attack humans. I saw one video that says so but analyzing the situation, I thought the reason was mainly to feed, not really to attack.
The moving fins attracted the grouper thinking probably that it was its prey and snapped on it. When the juveniles are older, they migrate to the coral reefs and stay there for more than 40 years.
The nearshore environment is a fragile one that should be protected or conserved considering the highly complex life that intertwine in mangrove ecosystems. About The Author Regional, Patrick Dr. Patrick A. Regional mentored graduate and undergraduate students for more than two decades and engaged in various university and externally-funded national and international research projects as a consultant.
Related to his blogging and book writing venture, he taught himself HTML, CSS, SEO, LyX/LaTeX, GIMP, and Inkscape to edit SVG, JPEG, and PNG files and WordPress. systems analysis using Stella, ENSIM, and Sesame; CGIS mapping, SCUBA diving for work and pleasure.
He likes running 2-3 miles, 3-4 times a week thus finished a 21K in 2019, and recently learned to cook at home due to COVID-19. Historically, the goliathgrouper was relatively common and highly conspicuous in portions of its range.
In the western Atlantic Ocean goliathgrouper are found from Florida to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. In the Eastern Atlantic they occurred from Senegal south to the Congo; however, this population is believed to have been eliminated because no individuals have been observed there for many years.
The species has since been protected in Brazil (2002), Puerto Rico (2004) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (2004), but fishing continues in other parts of its range. Following the granting of protected species status, abundance in Florida has appeared to increase over the past two decades, but the extent of the recovery is not clearly understood.
Likewise, information on the perceived increase in abundance is limited, and it is difficult for fisheries managers to truly understand the extent to which the species has recovered throughout its geographic range. This perception is reinforced by the fact that goliathgrouper will opportunistically prey upon hooked or speared fish.
Many anglers and divers are now concerned that the goliathgrouper ’s protected status has resulted in abundance levels that do not represent a natural ecosystem balance. Adult Goliath groupers are generally sedentary and have small home ranges, making them more vulnerable to spearfishing.
The fact that they form predictable spawning aggregations further increases susceptibility to fishing pressure. Goliath grouper are dispersal spawners, meaning eggs and sperm are released and mixed in the water column during spawning.
Juveniles settle in shallow estuaries habitats, where they reside for several years before moving offshore. Juveniles remain in mangrove habitat for the first five to six years of life, and then move offshore when they reach about 3 feet.
Abundant food and shelter result in high survival and fairly rapid growth of 4.5-6 inches per year during the juvenile phase. As with juveniles, adult Goliath groupers also have a tendency to remain at one site for extended periods.
Juveniles moving out of mangrove habitat may disperse far and wide until they establish a more permanent home range. One juvenile tagged in the Ten A Thousand Islands was recaptured on the central east coast in the Indian River area.
To date, goliathgrouper stomach content analysis has documented that about 85% of their diet consists of crustaceans, mostly crabs. This measures the relative concentration of certain molecules like oxygen and carbon in body tissue to help scientists understand links in the marine food web.
Results show that Goliath groupers occupy a relatively low position on the food chain, about on the same level as the tiny pinkish, a common bait fish. However, the perception that goliathgrouper are consuming healthy groupers and snappers is not supported by scientific evidence.
Consequently, the number of goliathgrouper observed concentrated over structure during the day may not represent all that are actually present. Since protective measures were implemented in 1990, anecdotal accounts and directed research efforts indicate increasing abundance of goliathgrouper throughout Florida.
The most recent stock assessment (2004) indicated that goliathgrouper in Florida waters were recovering, but that the population may not experience full recovery until 2020 or later. Because the harvest of goliathgrouper is prohibited, the conclusions of the stock assessment were made in the absence of certain types of biological information (e.g., age structure, sex ratio) that are typically available for other species through the examination of harvested individuals.
Citizen volunteers have played an important role in assessing Goliath grouper abundance and locating spawning aggregations. Although useful, these data do not consistently include size distribution or standardized sampling throughout seasons.
Everglades National Park Angler Surveys: Detailed catch and effort data collected during volunteer dockside interviews of recreational anglers from within Everglades National Park show a substantial decline in abundance during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since the moratorium in 1990, the abundance of juveniles within ENP, which includes critical nursery habitat for this species, has increased considerably.
Anglers and divers can provide valuable assistance by reporting observations of tagged Goliath grouper (see information below). Citizen volunteers have played an important role in helping scientists evaluate the recovery of goliathgrouper and also in identifying spawning aggregations.
You can play a role in the goliathgrouper ’s recovery and assist scientists in data collection. Their skeletal structure cannot adequately support their weight out of the water without some type of damage.
The Goliath groupers have begun their yearly aggregation on our wrecks and reefs. We counted half a dozen of them on our newest wreck, the M/V Ana Cecilia.
Reserve your spot to dive with the groupers early as our trips are filling fast. It’s friendly demeanor and curiosity gets you within arms reach of it many times.
Now multiply this encounter by sixty plus and you are experiencing the best goliathgrouper diving anywhere in the world. Palm Beach, Florida is hands down the best place to be if you want to see these leviathans in all their splendor.
The wrecks in Palm Beach are the perfect hangout for these behemoth fish. Today’s morning trip included a stop at this great series of wrecks in search of the Goliath groupers.
Easily outweighing and almost out sizing the divers, these large sea bass (the largest of their kind in the world) are actually quite timid. Getting close takes a little time for them to build the confidence to approach you.
Chase them and you’ll be doing nothing more than getting tail shots of these fish and running low on your air supply quickly. Sitting back and letting their curiosity get the better of them is the best recipe for those closeup shots.
Sea turtles, rays, and countless fish live around these wrecks. With today’s ideal conditions and 3-4 dozen Goliath groupers to keep us in a constant state of awe, it is easy to understand why a few of us decided to do a second dive on the same wreck while the other divers were at a nearby reef.
If the photos from today’s dive don’t convince you, then make sure to check out the recent article written in the National Geographic Magazine about the Goliath groupers. The Goliath groupers normally stick around, with their numbers increasing throughout the months, until October.
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But when cooler heads prevail, the facts emerge and paint a picture of a species that has come back from the brink in the U.S. state of Florida but is still very much in need of our protection. Contributed by As the summer reaches its zenith, so begins a spectacle that divers and underwater photographers will not find anywhere else on the planet except here in Florida.
Spawning season here in Florida for the Atlantic Goliath groupers is nearly two months long, beginning around mid-August through to the end of September, or the first of October. Nor have I seen one as large as the 680-pound (308 kg) IFA (International Game fish Association) all tackle record grouper that was caught by sport fisherman off Fernanda Beach, Florida, back in 1961.
The most favorable location for encountering these giants happens between two natural and four artificial reef sites along Florida’s Palm Beach County Coast. From mid August to the end of September/early October, these six key sites play host to the only goliathgrouper spawning aggregations known to take place off Florida’s east coast.
More recent studies have found, following tagged fish, some distances traveled to reach one specific spawning aggregation site have been recorded greater than 300 miles (483 km). Having followed these fish since the first spawning aggregation reappeared after a three-decade-long hiatus on a local site off Jupiter called the Hole-in-the-Wall back in 2001, I can pretty well describe the process by which it typically takes place.
In a short span of a week or two, a similar number, comprised 50 to 60 fish have descended on a second set of wrecks, Micah and Danny, a few miles south off West Palm Beach. By early September, another wreck further south off Boynton Beach named the Castor completes the scene with the arrival of another 50 to 60 individuals.
It just so happens that in addition to Boynton Beach being Florida’s east coast most southern spawning site, water temps were less affected by the upwelling’s. By the time these protective measures were fully enacted in 1990, there were so few large Goliath left it would be some eight years (1998) before the first documented spawning aggregation would reappear in the southern Gulf of Mexico.
And another three years (August 2001) before the first spawning aggregation comprised of 27 fish off Jupiter, Florida, would be seen again for the first time on the east coast in nearly three decades. But appearances can be deceiving, as a major portion of the entire regional population taking part in this ritual behavior is represented between this one zone off Florida’s east coast and a key number of sites in the southern Gulf of Mexico.
While our own management measures may have stopped the progression of the U.S. population of goliathgrouper toward extinction, relentless fishing pressure elsewhere in their range alerted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list goliathgrouper as “critically endangered.” The same year the fish was placed under its new protected status, the job of monitoring the recovery of this species was put into the hands of scientists at both the National Marine Fisheries Service (NFS) and Florida State University (FSU). FSU’s Research Ecologist, Dr Chris Koenig, and his colleagues, began a detailed study of the fish’s natural history.
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