Taxonomy Grouper fish have many alternative names in different parts of the world. Groupers belong to the diverse ray-finned group of fish known as teleostean.
Giant groupers (Epimetheus lanceolatus) often weigh up to 100 kg and measure more than a meter in length. These factors contribute to the grouper fish's general laziness and slow-swimming characteristics.
A Nassau grouper, E. stratus, ambushes its prey on the Caribbean coral reefs. The Nassau grouper is a medium to large fish, growing to over a meter in length and up to 25 kg in weight. Superimposed on this base color are a number of lighter stripes, darker spots, bars, and patterns, including black spots below and behind the eye, and a forked stripe on the top of the head.
By the light of the full moon, huge numbers of the grouper cluster together to mate in mass spawning. However, its numbers have been sharply reduced by overfishing in recent years, and it is a slow breeder.
Furthermore, its historic spawning areas are easily targeted for fishing, which tends to remove the reproductively active members of the group. The species is therefore highly vulnerable to overexploitation, and is recognized as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
The governments of the United States, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas have banned or instituted closed fishing seasons for the Nassau grouper in recent years. In the Cayman Islands, fishing in the spawning holes of the grouper has been banned until the end of 2016.
A large spawning site for the species is located at Glover's Reef, off the Belizean coast. It has been identified as one of only two viable sites remaining for the species, of 9 originally known locations.
However, the Nassau grouper's spawning region is not included in this marine protected area (MPA). Many conservation methods have been put in place to help the grouper, including closed seasons, when fishing is not allowed.
Some areas are protected, a complete ban on fishing the grouper in US waters has been instituted. However, analysis of declines in both populations and the size spawning aggregations has led to the species being uplifted to critically endangered by the IUCN Red List in 2018.
The Nassau grouper has been depicted on postage stamps of Cuba (1965, 1975), the Bahamas (1971 5-cent), and Antigua and Barbuda (1987 40-c). The Nassau grouper was placed on the World Conservation Union's realist of threatened species in 1996, and it was determined to be endangered because its population has declined by 60% in the past 30 years.
Over a third of spawning aggregations have been estimated to have disappeared, and the grouper is considered to be commercially extinct in some areas. ^ Shcherbina, Andrey; Glen G. Gawarkiewicz; Christopher A. Liner; Simon R. Horror (Sep 2008).
“Mapping bathymetric and hydrographic features of Glover's Reef, Belize, with a REMUS autonomous underwater vehicle” (PDF). ^ “Nassau Grouper, Epimetheus stratus (Bloch 1792) Biological Report” 2014.
Regarding its taxonomic category, this type of animal belongs to the subphylum Vertebrata, one of the three groups of the phylum Chordata (chordates). During some period of their life cycle, these animals possess a, a dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and tail.
It is estimated that vertebrates appeared at the beginning of the Cambrian period, about 530 million years ago. This period is characterized by the sudden appearance of complex multicellular organisms.
Findings from older vertebrates, such as Haikouichthys and Myllokunmingia, suggest that they are a group of animals that originated in freshwater. These adaptations enabled them to have a presence not only in water, but also on land and in the air.
To this group belong all the fish that have a bony internal skeleton, that is, made of bones. They generally have a terminal mouth with articulated dermal bones, from where the teeth emerge.
They are characterized by the presence of hair, hands, feet or legs. The lion, the dolphin, the horse, the dog and the human being are some examples of mammalian vertebrates.
They are supported by their hind limbs, while the forelimbs evolved into wings. The eagle, the parrot, the hummingbird, the hawk and the pelican are some well-known birds.
This type of vertebrate animal is characterized by significant muscular development of its limbs, which allows them to move through jumps or swimming. Vertebrates can also be classified according to their ability to regulate internal temperature.
They generally sit at the peak of their food chain, enjoying the unchecked control of its population, creating potential disastrous consequences as the reefs become imbalanced. Characterized by their long spiky fin rays that contain venom, the hostile lionfish is one of the most invasive and aggressive reef fish species.
This is why some agencies are asking divers, anglers, and snorkelers to assist the controlling programs of lionfish populations in designated areas. Nonetheless, in most of the Caribbean and Atlantic marine ecosystems, infiltration and destruction by lion fishes is so severe they have reportedly ravaged and decimated around 80% of the reef species.
Scuba divers are trying to balance the problem by actively hunting, catching, and killing large numbers of lionfish in these areas. Another theory centers around the same hurricane in which the species were accidentally released while other reports claim that they were deliberately set free.
Sitting at the top of the food chain unchecked by a natural hunter, lionfish population thrives to abundance and imbalance. They will swallow huge amounts of different reef fish species and marine invertebrates mollusks in one single meal.
Injured divers from lionfish stings may suffer nausea and fever symptoms and should seek medical attention. Scuba divers, anglers, and snorkelers can help to catch and control lionfish populations in affected regions of the world.
In the deep ocean, the majority of vertebrates, or animals with backbones, that we encounter are fish, ranging from important commercial species such as snapper and grouper to sharks and rays, angler fish, dusk eels, and many others. However, as we learn more about fish and fish communities at different depths, we are building insights into what constitutes a healthy ecosystem, in turn establishing knowledge needed to help managers make the right decisions to conserve resources for future generations.
Description: Created using HTML elements, videos are loaded and played from the server. While exploring a site referred to as “Gulf oil/MC796” during the Gulf of Mexico 2017 expedition, we had this rare encounter with a swordfish feeding.
Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Gulf of Mexico 2017. Using the two red laser dots, which are spaced 10 centimeters (~ 4 inches) apart, scientists estimated that this cutthroat eel seen during the Deep-Sea Symphony: Exploring the Musicians Seamounts expedition was 127 centimeters (4.17 feet) long.
An overview of some fish seen on the 19 dives on the Discovering the Deep: Exploring Remote Pacific MPA's expedition, while exploring the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument at depths ranging from 300 meters down to nearly 6,000 meters. Documenting fish at these varying depths can provide scientists with insights into the health and viability of an ecosystem.
Video of a sea robin using modified fins to move across the seafloor during a dive within the Ta'u Unit of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa.
Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake. This angler fish was one of only nine species and 21 individuals we observed during our dive on Atlantis II.
Video courtesy of Chris Malinowski, Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory. Video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013.
The Little Hercules remotely operated vehicle captured stunning imagery of a deep-sea chimera while exploring a seafloor feature referred to as “Landau” during the Indonesia-USA Deep-Sea Exploration of the Angie Talmud Region (INDEX 2010) expedition.