The video, shot by his wife using a GoPro 3, shows the hefty fish as he nips at the man's flipper, tearing it off, and then goes straight for his catch with its powerful jaw. But, even if the diver wasn't familiar with that specific size of this type of fish, Goliath groupers have been known to roam western Atlantic waters near Florida.
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 Goliath grouper caught by Buddy Junks at the Big Indian Rocks Fishing Pier, Florida (1976). Photo courtesy Kenneth Krzysztof historical importance to commercial fisheries, the Goliath grouper 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 Goliath grouper especially susceptible to overfishing.
The Goliath grouper 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 Goliath grouper annual spawning aggregation sites greatly reduced the number of reproductive adults. It is also found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, from Senegal to Congo although rare in the Canary Islands.
Occurring in shallow, inshore waters to depths of 150 feet (46 m), the Goliath grouper 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 Goliath grouper ’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.
However, this specimen was sampled from a population of individuals depressed by fishing pressure and it is projected that Goliath grouper 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 Goliath grouper ’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 Goliath grouper 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 Goliath grouper 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 Goliath grouper. Grouper Malabar grouper, Epimetheus malarious Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Performed Family: Serranidae Subfamily: EpinephelinaeBleeker, 1874 Tribes and genera Not all errands are called 'groupers'; the family also includes the sea basses.
The common name grouper is usually given to fish in one of two large genera : Epimetheus and Mycteroperca. In addition, the species classified in the small genera Hyperion, Completes, Dermatologist, Graciela, Scotia, and Trio are also called 'groupers'.
However, some hamlets (genus Affected), the hinds (genus Cephalopods), the lyre tails (genus Various) and some other small genera (Gonioplectrus, Nippon, Paranoia) are also in this subfamily, and occasional species in other serrated genera have common names involving the word grouper “. Nonetheless, the word grouper on its own is usually taken as meaning the subfamily Epinephrine.
Groupers are Telecasts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They can be quite large, and lengths over a meter and the largest is the Atlantic Goliath grouper (Epimetheus Tamara) which has been weighed at 399 kilograms (880 pounds) and a length of 2.43 m (7 ft 11 1 2 in), though in such a large group, species vary considerably.
They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopuses, and crustaceans.
Reports of fatal attacks on humans by the largest species, such as the giant grouper (Epimetheus lanceolatus) are unconfirmed. They also use their mouths to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills.
The word grouper is from the Portuguese name, group, which has been speculated to come from an indigenous South American language. In New Zealand, “groper” refers to a type of wreck fish, Poly prion oxygenate, which goes by the Mori name haiku.
In the Middle East, the fish is known as hammer ', and is widely eaten, especially in the Persian Gulf region. The species in the tribes Grammistini and Diploprionini secrete a mucus like toxin in their skin called Rammstein and when they are confined in a restricted space and subjected to stress the mucus produces a foam which is toxic to nearby fish, these fishes are often called soap fishes.
The largest males often control harems containing three to 15 females. Groupers often pair spawn, which enables large males to competitively exclude smaller males from reproducing.
As such, if a small female grouper were to change sex before it could control a harem as a male, its fitness would decrease. If no male is available, the largest female that can increase fitness by changing sex will do so.
Gonochorism, or a reproductive strategy with two distinct sexes, has evolved independently in groupers at least five times. The evolution of gonochorism is linked to group spawning high amounts of habitat cover.
Both group spawning and habitat cover increase the likelihood of a smaller male to reproduce in the presence of large males. Fitness of male groupers in environments where competitive exclusion of smaller males is not possible is correlated with sperm production and thus testicle size.
Gonochoristic groupers have larger testes than protogynous groupers (10% of body mass compared to 1% of body mass), indicating the evolution of gonochorism increased male grouper fitness in environments where large males were unable to competitively exclude small males from reproducing. Many groupers are important food fish, and some of them are now farmed.
Unlike most other fish species which are chilled or frozen, groupers are usually sold live in markets. Groupers are commonly reported as a source of Ciguatera fish poisoning.
DNA barcoding of grouper species might help in controlling Ciguatera fish poisoning since fish are easily identified, even from meal remnants, with molecular tools. In September 2010, a Costa Rican newspaper reported a 2.3 m (7 ft 7 in) grouper in Cieneguita, Limón.
The weight of the fish was 250 kg (550 lb) and it was lured using one kilogram of bait. In November 2013, a 310 kg (680 lb) grouper had been caught and sold to a hotel in Dong yuan, China.
^ a b c d e Richard van der Loan; William N. Scholar & Ronald Cricket (2014). ^ Share, Redoubt; Honer, Andrea; Ait-El-Djoudi, Karim; Cricket, Hans (2006).
^ John E. Randall; Kashmir Aida; Takashi Libya; Nobuhiro Missouri; His Kamila & Yorkshire Hashimoto (1971). “Rammstein, the skin toxin of soap fishes, and it significance in the classification of the Grammistidae” (PDF).
Publications of the Set Marine Biological Laboratory. ^ Scholar, William N. ; Cricket, Ron & van der Loan, Richard (eds.).
A phylogenetic test of the size-advantage model: Evolutionary changes in mating behavior influence the loss of sex change in a fish lineage. Estimates of body sizes at maturation and at sex change, and the spawning seasonality and sex ratio of the endemic Hawaiian grouper (Hyporthodus Quercus, f. Epinephelidae).
Constant relative age and size at sex change for sequentially hermaphroditic fish. A new version of the size-advantage hypothesis for sex change: Incorporating sperm competition and size-fecundity skew.
Sex change in fishes: Its process and evolutionary mechanism. Evidence of gonochorism in a grouper, Mycteroperca rosacea, from the Gulf of California, Mexico.
^ Molly, P. P., N. B. Goodwin, I. M. Cote, J. D. Reynolds and M. J. G. Gage. Sperm competition and sex change: A comparative analysis across fishes.
^ Crib, T. H., Bray, R. A., Wright, T. & Michelin, S. 2002: The trematodes of groupers (Serranidae: Epinephrine): knowledge, nature and evolution. ^ Justine, J.-L., Beveridge, I., Box shall, G. A., Bray, R. A., Morale, F., Triples, J.-P. & Whittington, I. D. 2010: An annotated list of parasites (Isopod, Coppola, Monotone, Diogenes, Custody and Nematode) collected in groupers (Serranidae, Epinephrine) in New Caledonia emphasizes parasite biodiversity in coral reef fish.
Folio Parasitologica, 57, 237-262. Doi : 10.14411/fp.2010.032 PDF ^ “Most consumers prefer to purchase live groupers in fish markets”. ^ Schooling, C., Kissinger, D. D., Detail, A., Fraud, C. & Justine, J.-L. 2014: A phylogenetic re-analysis of groupers with applications for ciguatera fish poisoning.
^ ^ “Photos: Fishermen catch wildly huge 686-pound fish, sell it to hotel”. ^ Heather Alexander, Houston Chronicle (21 August 2014).