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 goliathgroupers 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 Goliath grouper 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.
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 Goliath grouper 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.
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.
^ Lovato, Cleo nice Maria Cardozo; Soars, Bruno Clears; Begot, Tiago Octavio Buffalo; Montage, Luciano Coach de Assis (January 2016). “Tidal pools as habitat for juveniles of the Goliath grouper Epimetheus Tamara (Lichtenstein 1822) in the Amazonian coastal zone, Brazil”.
Risky, Delaney C.; Bakenhaster, Micah D.; Adams, Douglas H. (2015). “ 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 Goliath grouper, which may grow up to 8 feet (2.4 m) in length, is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, due to over harvesting in the second half of the 20th century, before legislation was introduced in the U.S. to protect this species.
The Goliath grouper reaches a length of 8 feet (240 cm) and the largest published weight is 1003 lbs. The juvenile Goliath grouper, which is less than 39 inches (100 cm), is tawny or yellowish-brown in color with irregular darker brown vertical bands.
The larger adult fish is gray or greenish with pale blotches and smaller dark brown or blackish spots scattered over the upper part of its head, body and pectoral fins. The Goliath grouper is capable of producing a loud booming noise, which may be used to defend territory or during courtship.
The Goliath grouper feeds primarily on crustaceans, especially spiny lobsters, as well as turtles, fish and stingrays. This species is an ambush hunter that feeds during the day, with increased activity during the low-light periods of dawn and dusk.
This is accompanied by rapidly expansion of its jaws and flaring of the gill covers which create a vacuum that sucks the prey into its mouth. The Goliath grouper occurs in the western Atlantic from Florida to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Populations began to decline in the 1960s when recreational SCUBA divers would swim up to the fearless fish and spear it at close range. The Goliath grouper exhibits territorial behavior near its sheltered home in a cave or wreck.
This consists of a “threat display” to intruders by opening its mouth wide and shaking its body or producing a loud booming sound (see below). The Goliath grouper will travel many miles during one or two months each year to mate in huge spawning aggregations at traditional breeding grounds.
As the male approaches the female, its entire forebode, from the pectoral fins forward, turns pale, contrasting sharply with its dark rest of the body. The eggs hatch into transparent larvae that quickly develop long spines and a large mouth.
After drifting with the current for 25 to 45 days, the one-inch larvae settle to the bottom in shallow-water mangrove habitats where they hide while completing metamorphosis into juveniles. Due to short dive times at depths of 100 feet or more, there have been few recorded observations of the courtship of the Goliath grouper.
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. Very large Goliath grouper have been observed to stalk divers and even conduct unsuccessful ambushes of the same.
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.
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 goliathgroupers 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.