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.
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. Reef groupers are eaten by larger fish like sharks, eels, and rays.
If you are referring to the fish known as grouper, a true vegetarian would say “No” and would not eat it. With a monstrous head, huge maw, small eyes, and a body mass that can reach 1,003 pounds (455 kg) and over 8 feet in length (250 cm), the GoliathGrouper is one of the largest species in its family.
Although it is erroneously reputed to be a menace to humans, the GoliathGrouper has small teeth and feeds on bottom-dwelling crustaceans and slow-moving fishes by inhaling them using the suction method. Game fisherman often speak of it as an undesirable species that poses a great threat to populations of other more desirable fishes and lobsters, but scientific studies have found otherwise.
With highly delectable flesh, the species was grossly overfished in the 1980s, even as the mangrove swamps that serve as the home to immature specimens were being torn out and filled in many places. Today the GoliathGrouper is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, and has been protected from fishing or collection since 1990 in the United States and since 1993 in the Caribbean.
Young Goliath Groupers seek refuge among mangrove roots for the first 5 to 6 years of their lives, at which age they reach sexual maturity. This giant, which tips the scales at around 800lbs (360 kg), is found in the tropical Atlantic waters off of West Africa and the Americas, and in the Pacific from California to Peru.
(Image Source) Goliath Groupers have large, stocky bodies that are nearly half as wide as they are long. Adults sport small spots across their greenish-brownish-greyish scales, and smaller individuals tend to have vertical bars down their sides. They have three to five rows of teeth in the lower jaw, though they are rarely used.
While young, Goliath Groupers are preyed upon by other fish, but once full-grown Sharks and Humans are their only real predators. They are typically solitary fish, sometimes living in small groups, but during the breeding season they congregate in schools of 100 or more.
Reproduction takes place via spawning, and the eggs are dispersed into the water currents. Many other Grouper species exhibit hermaphroditic tendencies, with the fish ages as females before becoming male.
In short, a very appropriate name for an eagle that makes its living grabbing tree dwellers while they are just doing their thing. As the name probably suggests, they are a common animal, and have the largest range and most abundant population of any Australian Marsupial. The Brush tails do in fact have very bushy tails, though the underside had a naked patch.
Some other marsupials, especially those that dig, have backwards facing pouches to keep dirt and debris away from their developing infants. Southern stingrays, a green moray eel, and two sea turtles also share this exciting exhibit.
Sand tiger sharks are found in the shallow, coastal tropical waters of all oceans except the central and eastern Pacific. Diet This nocturnal hunter feeds on bony fish, small sharks and rays, octopus, and large crustaceans.
Unique Adaptations Sand tiger sharks are often found in groups of a few dozen, hovering in caves or near reefs or shipwrecks. Sand tigers migrate, coming toward shore during the summer and moving southward or to deeper waters in the winter.
Reproduction Female sand tiger sharks are viviparous (producing living young from eggs that hatch within the body). Southern stingrays inhabit temperate waters of bays and estuaries from New Jersey to Brazil, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.
Diet Rays feed on a wide variety of bottom organisms, such as crustaceans (shrimp and crab), mollusks (snails and shellfish), and worms. Development is viviparous (pups hatch from their egg capsules while inside the mother’s uterus and are born soon after).
In the early spring and summer, females may leave the water and return to their home beach to nest. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are carnivores, feeding on crabs, mollusks, jellyfish, mussels, and fish.
Unique Adaptations Streamlined bodies and flippers make these large animals powerful swimmers and divers-some species routinely diving to depths greater than 1,000 feet and staying underwater for several hours. Unlike their freshwater relatives, sea turtles have a special gland that rids their bodies of excess salts.
These events are called an “arrived” and take place on a small strip of beach at Ranch Nero, Mexico. Their populations have declined due to commercial harvest of turtle meat, eggs, skins for leather, and shells for ornaments and jewelry.
They die from ingesting marine debris, such as plastic bags, or get caught in nets as by catch and drown. Moray eels are found in tropical reefs and shallows from New Jersey to Brazil, including Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico.
They feed on fish and crustaceans, especially crabs, and use their long, slender bodies to enter holes and crevices in search of hidden prey. Despite warning predators with a large open mouth and sharp teeth, morays are not aggressive and do not usually bite unless provoked.
Moray eels begin adult life as males, then later change to females (sex reversal). Cobra can be found on the western coast of the Atlantic from Massachusetts to Argentina, often in open waters.
Diet Cobra are opportunistic carnivores, feeding primarily on crabs, squid, and other fish. They frequently follow large animals like sea turtles, sharks, and rays to scavenge leftovers.
They live in the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean, along the eastern coast of the U.S. and south to Brazil and Uruguay. Jacks are typically light, usually silver with red pigmentation which disappears in dark ocean water.
Diet These strong-swimming carnivores rely on speed and strength to catch their prey, which includes small fish, cope pods, and other ocean animals. Unique Adaptations Jacks are often found swimming with sharks, but when roaming the open sea they school as a defense mechanism.
Jacks can also be seen hitching a free ride in the bow wake of their predatory “companions.” Juveniles hide among jellyfish, debris, plants, etc, and have a deeper and sleeker appearance then the adults. They prefer the sheltered habitats of coral reefs, and especially shady areas such as shipwrecks, rock ledges, and caves.
Atlantic goliathgrouper have a broad, flat head and mouth, and can grow up to 8 feet long and weigh over 700 pounds. These hunters are not built for speed over long distances and prefer to ambush prey, rather than pursue it in open water.
The diet of these large predators consists mainly of crab, lobster, fish, octopus, and young sea turtles. Habits and Adaptations Atlantic Goliath groupers are often spotted or dark, allowing them to camouflage with their surroundings.
When threatened, an Atlantic goliathgrouper will defend its territory with aggressive body language and a distinctly audible rumbling sound. These puffer fish primarily inhabit coral reefs and other warm shallow waters.
Usually brown, with some yellow on the underside, these stocky, slow swimming fishes have a large head and a “box-shaped” body. Diet Porcupine fish use their strong beaks to crush coral polyps, mollusks, crustaceans, crabs, and sea urchins.
Unique Adaptations Puffers hide in coral and as their name implies, can puff up two to three times their normal size by sucking air or water into a special chamber in their abdomen. Puffers employ a number of defenses to avoid getting eaten: they are covered with sharp spines, their internal organs contain an extremely toxic nerve poison, and when cornered they can bury themselves in the sand.
This important food fish can be found in warm coastal waters, from Massachusetts to Brazil, including Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico. They have a triangular-shaped head and a notched tail, and are capable of inflicting injuries to unsuspecting fishermen with their well-developed teeth.
Predators approaching from the bottom see a white belly that blends with the bright ocean surface above. Tarpon are found in tropical and temperate waters along the eastern Atlantic coasts of North and South America.
Unique Adaptations When swimming in oxygen-poor water, tarpons can gulp air from the surface using special lung-like bladders. Initially the young head to shallow water where they become an intricate part of the plankton that drifts with ocean currents far from shore.
Trigger fish usually spend a large portion of their lives near a coral reef-inhabiting areas in coastal waters from New York to Brazil. Small eyes set high on a large, angular head and jaw give them a “bucktoothed” appearance.
Diet Trigger fish have powerful jaws and teeth that allow them to easily crush hard-shelled prey like crustaceans, mollusks, coral, and sea urchins. The Queen trigger fish will blow mouthfuls of water at sea urchins to flip them over and expose their softer underparts.