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Goliath Grouper Next To Diver

author
James Smith
• Thursday, 31 December, 2020
• 7 min read

Goliath groupers are the largest predatory, reef-dwelling fish species in the Caribbean, weighing as much as 660 pounds (300 kg) when fully grown. Game fishermen in the 20th century hunted them to such extremes that the species was near extinction along the Florida coastline by the 1990s.

grouper goliath diver science
(Source: www.sciencephoto.com)

Contents

Those attempting to spot them in typical dive locations off the Palm Beach coast will be disappointed. Depending on the year, goliathgrouper numbers fluctuate between the different wrecks, with some enjoy a higher concentration than others.

Due to their sheer size, Goliath groupers often intimidate divers in the water. Divers who approach the fish should remain calm, not chase them, and swim slowly to avoid spooking them.

Following those rules and visiting the right sites at the right time of the year means a good chance to see one of the ocean’s truly spectacular spawning events. A Pad MST instructor, Chris graduated from university in 2016 with a degree in film and journalism.

His documentary depicting the adapting generation of whale hunters on the island of PICO won a Royal Television Award in 2017. 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.

grouper diver goliath scuba jewfish alamy locally meets known
(Source: www.alamy.com)

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.

grouper goliath scuba diver itajara epinephelus swim alamy side
(Source: www.alamy.com)

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.

It's a fish that can reach the size of a grizzly bear, and it's loved by divers and despised by many fishermen. The goliathgrouper, capable of growing to 800 pounds, bobs around the reefs and swallows the occasional crab or passing fish.

As fishermen tell it, these marine blimps hover in wait of easy meals, parking themselves next to fishing boats and snatching someone else's hard-won catch off the line. They face strong opposition from environmentalists, divers and some scientists, who relish the opportunity to see these enormous, surprisingly curious fish just a few hundred yards from South Florida's condo towers.

“If you sit still, they'll come to you and see what's going on,” said Kevin Metz, owner of Underwater Explorers of Boynton Beach, whose business from August through October consists almost exclusively of taking divers to see Goliath groupers at a submerged wreck. For anglers, watching in dismay as Goliath groupers swallow their catch, the huge fish are as charming as that friend who always seems to show up around dinner time.

His eyeball was the size of a baseball, and its mouth was so big it could’ve eaten a small child.” Brian Sanders of Davie has taken famous South Floridians including former Miami Dolphins' linebacker Zach Thomas and former pro wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fishing for Goliath.

grouper goliath diver florida swimming magazine super hakai season iammrfoster
(Source: www.hakaimagazine.com)

Written comments to the wildlife commission in support of allowing them to be taken again describe similar experiences. Whether to allow them to be killed, the wildlife commission has received 439 written comments so far, the majority from fishermen who blame the resurgence of Goliath groupers for a decline in the number of other fish.

“They eat massive amounts of reef fish to maintain and grow to these huge weights. Known until 2001 by the politically incorrect name “Jewish,” the goliathgrouper had sustained a sharp decline due to overfishing for its meat, the loss of coastal habitat for young fish and the inherent vulnerabilities of a long-lived species that takes years to reach sexual maturity.

The species is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the global authority on the status of wildlife populations. “Recent stock assessment indicates abundance in South Florida has greatly increased since the fishery closed in 1990,” said Amanda Valley, spokeswoman for the wildlife commission.

“While a limited harvest of smaller-sized fish in south Florida is unlikely to harm the population, the FCC also wants to take into consideration stakeholder perspectives. Sylvia Earle, one of the world's foremost marine biologists, who was named a Hero for the Planet by Time magazine, strongly supports keeping the ban, saying that living Goliath groupers are ecological treasures that support a growing tourism industry.

No data as to its measurement has been published so far. Following the big catch, several photos of the giant lapu-lapu, which is locally called UGAP in the Visayans and Mindanao regions, went viral on social media sites including Facebook. The giant grouper fish caught off Malayan waters is an indication of the healthy marine life and impressive ecology in the province, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Far).

grouper goliath diver itajara epinephelus scuba florida singer states united fish shipwreck offshore near island
(Source: mpo.photoshelter.com)

This is because grouper like to live near the bottom close to underwater structures like rocks and wrecks. The Your Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver Trolling Lure is a great option when trolling for grouper (and other saltwater fish like Spanish mackerel) as it’s realistic 3D eyes mimic an actual bait fish’s eyes.

The X-Rap has been a trolling favorite for years and works well for many species (like halibut, lake trout, and more) of fish besides just grouper. If you find grouper that are close to shore or in shallow water, your best bet for a trolling lure is the Papal Shadow Rap Shad Shallow Trolling Lure.

These lures look and feel more like the fish grouper are used to eating, and are an excellent choice for trolling. The rubber tail’s action imitates a frantic bait fish trying to escape a hungry grouper.

The rubber tail flutters in the water at all speeds and mimics a scared shrimp or shad. Grouper love feeding on both small crustaceans/bait fish and find the Each Fat Swing Impact Rubber Shad irresistible.

If you aren’t getting any bites on your soft plastic lures or the diving plugs, we recommend trying out a fishing classic: metal spoons. Metal spoons imitate sardines, mackerel, and other small shiny fish that grouper like to eat.

grouper goliath fl divers pound fishermen orlando
(Source: www.sun-sentinel.com)

These chrome-covered spoons have been catching many types of fish for years, including grouper. They have a simple action that when trolled with a down rigger looks like a small bait fish that has been separated from its school.

It has a more aggressive action than the Clark spoon which can entice reclusive grouper from where their hiding in underwater structure. The Huntington Stainless Steel Drone Spoon works for many saltwater species (such as smaller yellow fin tuna and bonito) along with grouper, so it’s a solid addition to any tackle box.

Keep in mind that we typically fish for grouper in the southern Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, so these are the species common to those areas. They are gray and brown and love living close to coastal rock piles and underwater wreckage.

Gag groupers will even hang in water only a few feet deep if there is structure and bait fish nearby. They’re often caught using down riggers and keeping your trolling lure 10 to 15 feet off the bottom.

While this can make figuring out where to fish for them easy, you need to be extra aware of your lure depth and how fast you’re trolling. If your lure bounces off the bottom when you’re trolling over underwater structure, you’ll most likely snag and end up losing equipment.

grouper diver goliath swimming barnes brent photograph vertical 12th uploaded august which
(Source: fineartamerica.com)

While most groupers won’t be larger than 40 lbs, some grow to enormous sizes! This might seem counter-intuitive when trolling, but you don’t want to give a hooked grouper any chance to swim back into the cover it darted out from.

If it gets back to the hole it lives in, chances are your line will scrape against the rocks and snap. A tight drag will not only prevent this but also act to set the hook with the movement of the boat.

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In

01: Tackle For Goliath Grouper
02: Taste For Grouper Quest
03: Of Black Grouper
04: Lures For Grouper
05: Lure For Grouper
06: Free Drg Grouper Software
07: Free Online Drg Grouper
08: Freshwater Grouper
09: Fried Grouper Bites Recipe
10: Fried Grouper Cheeks Recipe
Sources
1 kwkitchen.com - http://kwkitchen.com/theres-more-than-one-way-to-fry-a-fish/
2 castandspear.com - https://castandspear.com/grouper-cheeks/
3 onthegas.org - https://onthegas.org/food/grouper-cheeks
4 recipeforperfection.com - https://recipeforperfection.com/seared-grouper-cheeks-recipe/
5 www.starchefs.com - https://www.starchefs.com/cook/recipe/james-petrakis/country-fried-grouper-cheeks-sea-island-red-peas-ham-hock-charred-pearl-onions
6 www.keyingredient.com - https://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/3100365032/grouper-cheeks/
7 www.bullbuster.net - https://www.bullbuster.net/community/articles/how-to/best-recipes-on-the-web-for-cooking-black-grouper
8 www.bigoven.com - https://www.bigoven.com/recipe/mamas-grouper-cakes/248160
9 www.sizzlefish.com - https://www.sizzlefish.com/blogs/recipes-to-try/grouper-fish-tacos-recipe
10 highheelstohotwheels.com - https://highheelstohotwheels.com/2015/03/pan-seared-grouper-with-lemon-white-wine-butter-sauce/