In Florida, hatchlings join their brethren in safe spaces near coastal mangrove estuaries and spend their first six years of life dining exclusively on fish, crabs, and shrimp before heading out to open waters. The Goliath grouper grows slowly, attaining maturity around age 20-25, which is why it is important to manage fishing of the species; they need the chance to reach adulthood to reproduce in order to create a sustainable fishery.
The Goliath grouper is a key species in Florida waters because their presence is an indicator of health for local coral reefs. This particular species feeds by swallowing their prey whole, creating negative pressure that quickly them to bring in whole invertebrates, fish, and even smaller sharks.
Many grouper, manatees, and turtles were found washed ashore on Southwest Florida beaches during the red tides in 2003 and 2005. The good news is that as of 2006 the Goliath grouper ’s population had improved and was considered to be on a recovery trajectory due to the careful protection by NOAA Fisheries.
The Atlantic goliathgrouper, like most groupers, is an ambush predator and eats fairly large fishes and invertebrates and even small sharks. Throughout most of the year, low numbers of the Atlantic Goliath groupers are observed in any one place.
However, during reproduction (immediately after the full moons between June and December), they come together in groups of at least 100 individuals. These groups are known as spawning aggregations, and they form at relatively few places throughout the species’ range.
Though they were likely naturally rare, scientists believe that destructive fishing practices have reduced the numbers of the Atlantic Goliath groupers by at least 80% and that the species is now critically endangered. These fish utilize the same, few locations and same, few days for spawning every year, so their presence is quite predictable.
Furthermore, a total lack of fear of people makes them an easy target for spear fishers. Finally, the Atlantic goliathgrouper ’s large size, slow growth, and ease of capture all contribute to slow its recovery, even where laws have been put in place to give it some or complete legal protection from fishing (e.g., in the USA and Brazil).
It is important to continue to monitor Atlantic goliathgrouper population trends in order to determine whether the species is recovering or if stronger legal protection may be required. The two species are similar in both appearance and behavior, but little is known about the population trends or conservation status of the Pacific goliathgrouper.
Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Performed Family: Serranidae Subfamily: Epinephrine Genus: Epimetheus Species: Binomial name Epimetheus Tamara Synonyms Promiscuous Tamara (Lichtenstein, 1822) Serra nus Tamara Lichtenstein, 1822 Serra nus Menelik Valentines, 1828 Serra nus gales J.P. Müller & Trochee, 1848 Serra nus guava Play, 1860 Promiscuous one Ehrenberg, 1915 Promiscuous ditto Roux & Collision, 1954 The Atlantic goliathgrouper or Tamara (Epimetheus Tamara), also known as the Jewish, is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m (16 to 164 ft).
Its range includes the Florida Keys in the US, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean and most of the Brazilian coast. 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 Goliath groupers 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 goliathgrouper 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. This makes them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting while breeding.
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 goliathgrouper 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.
Besides shelter, tidal pools provide E. Tamara with plenty of prey such as lobster and porcelain crab. The Atlantic goliathgrouper has historically been referred to as the “Jewish”.
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. As such, if a small female grouper were to change sex before it could control a harem as a male, its fitness would decrease.
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.
If you find a five hundred pound Grouper at the end of your line you are going to be pretty sure it is the GoliathGrouper. Knowing how to identify them will save you a lot of headache in the long run.
Over the last 30 years that these fish have been under protection their populations in the Florida area have rebounded quite well. Many anglers are targeting these fish on a catch and release basis only.
It is not illegal to catch them but you do have to abide by a few guidelines when releasing the fish as to protect them as much as possible: The fish must be returned to the water immediately free, alive, and unharmed Photographs can be taken but only during the active act of release.
The skeletal structure of large Goliath grouper cannot adequately support their weight out of the water without some type of damage. If a large Goliath is brought on-board a vessel or out of the water, it is likely to sustain some form of internal injury and therefore be considered harvested.
Removing smaller Goliath groupers from the water to remove hooks is not necessarily a bad practice, but this process must be done with care, using proper fish handling techniques, and the fish must be returned to the water as expeditiously as possible. Like any wild animal, GoliathGrouper are most dangerous when they feel threatened or when they are hungry.
GoliathGrouper have huge mouths and can swallow large fish whole. This exact scenario is actually the basis for a lot of shark encounters as well for divers and spear fisherman.
If you do catch a GoliathGrouper and jump in the water with them for a picture, remember, their sheer size and strength can injure you if they were to start slashing around. You will find them near reefs, shipwrecks, rock ledges, old phosphate docks, etc.
They live in shallow water up to around 150 feet deep and hold tight to the structure mentioned above. In the Atlantic Ocean They range from Florida, through the Gulf of Mexico, The Bahamas, through the Caribbean, and down most of the coastline of Brazil.
Well, they are believed to grow to over 8 feet in length and weigh up to 800 pounds making this the largest reef dwelling fish in the world! The current world record for GoliathGrouper is 680 pounds and was caught off the coast of Florida at Fernanda Beach in 1961.
There have been a lot of very large GoliathGrouper caught since 1961 when you were allowed to harvest and weigh the fish. Many anglers argue new world records have been brought to the edge of their boat.
Since anglers are not allowed to remove large Grouper from the ocean it is impossible to know their exact weight unfortunately. One of the reasons GoliathGrouper populations are so threatened is because of their slow growth and re-population rates.
GoliathGrouper males reach sexual maturity around the age of 4 – 6 years old. At this age these fish are already around 4 ft long and would look like adults to many fishermen.
The big guys can definitely pull you off the boat and have been known to break lines and even rods! GoliathGrouper feed mostly on crustaceans like crab and lobster, fish, rays, and even sharks around the reef.
They are opportunistic feeders and will eat live or dead bait as long as it is fresh, they really aren't all that picky. Outside the US these fish are harder to find as they taste great and are not hard to spear.
They are not shy and unlike most fish, will not be in a hurry to swim away, making them an easy target. Bouncing your rig off the bottom a little to create some commotion will help them notice your bait.
Make sure you have some good leather gloves when hand lining these massive fish. GoliathGrouper put up a strong, but short-lived fight.
Rigging for GoliathGrouper isn't difficult just takes some heavy-duty line and crimps, about 16 ounces of weight and a 20/O Circle Hook. For GoliathGrouper you will want 600 pound test monofilament fishing line.