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Is Grouper Protected

author
Bob Roberts
• Monday, 12 October, 2020
• 8 min read

The protection will require agencies that fund or permit projects in the grouper ’s habitat to consult with the Service to ensure the area is not damaged. In 2016 the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration listed the grouper as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in response to a scientific petition from Wilder Guardians.

nassau grouper bahamas endangered protected fish reef vulnerable groupers coral florida threats reefs
(Source: rollingharbour.com)

Contents

Poor water quality and increased sedimentation due to land-development practices threaten both coral and macro algae that are important resources during the grouper ’s various life stages. The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Guardian has offices in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, and over 278,000 members and supporters worldwide. Our mission is to protect South Florida’s watershed through citizen engagement and community action, ensuring dimmable, drinkable, fishable, water for all.

As a result, Goliath grouper (the continental U.S. distinct population segment) was removed from the species of concern list (71 FR 61022). Scientists from our Southeast Fisheries Science Center are working to understand the changes that have occurred in coral reef ecosystems following the loss of top predators, such as groupers.

From 1997-2005, our researchers collaborated with Florida State University's Institute for Fishery Resource Ecology (Dr. Chris Koenig and Dr. Felicia Coleman) to monitor the status and recovery of Goliath grouper. This Goliath grouper research program investigated juvenile and adult Jewish abundance, distribution and migration patterns; their age and growth; and their habitat utilization.

With the help of Don Maria we have tagged over 1,000 adult Jewish and have observed aggregations of Goliath grouper in both the Gulf of Mexico and more recently, the South Atlantic. Posters created by the Center of Marine Conservation help disseminate information about our project and its requirements, highlighting our tagging study and the morphology of Goliath grouper.

grouper goliath florida endangered critically protect areas protected marine killing mission
(Source: medium.com)

Given that these groupers were afforded protected status, researchers worked to utilize and develop novel non-lethal techniques to procure and analyze biological samples for life history information. Researchers have also determined that soft dorsal rays hold promise for aging older fish (Marie et al., 2008).

These casualties, resulting from red tide, gave our biologists a unique opportunity to collect a multitude of biological samples, without having to sacrifice healthy animals. From these decomposing carcasses, biologists were able to record length for use in an age/length relationship, and were able to extract monoliths and remove dorsal spines and rays for comparison of hard parts in age and growth analysis.

Tissue samples were also removed and sent to the Florida Marine Research Institute, so they could evaluate the level of red tide toxin. The sampling trip gave these biologists an opportunity to educate the curious beach goers about red tide and Goliath grouper (a few of which had been misidentified as baby manatees).

Attempts to evaluate the data needed to assess the status of these depleted stocks and develop rebuilding plans present unique challenges. In 2010, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA Fisheries convened a benchmark Goliath grouper assessment for the continental U.S. population.

This project would not have been possible without ongoing collaboration with researchers from Florida State University, Everglades National Park, and the recreational fishing and SCUBA diving communities. Common Name grouper Kingdom Animalia Phylum Chordata Class Osteichthyes Order Performed Family Serranidae Genus Species Epimetheus SPP.

grouper goliath diver scuba endangered epinephelus protected alamy fl itajara shopping cart
(Source: www.alamy.com)

Diet Other fishes, squids, and crustaceans Incubation Oviparous (egg laying) Sexual Maturity No data Life Span Relatively long-lived; some groupers have lived at SeaWorld, San Diego for more than 30 years Range Varies by species Habitat Varies by species Population GLOBAL No data Status IUCN: Several species listed as Vulnerable or Threatened CITES: Not listed Uses: Not listed Some fish in this family can grow to incredible sizes, such as the Jewish (Epimetheus Tamara) of the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Queensland grouper (E. lanceolatus) of Australia. Both of these fishes can reach lengths of more than 3 m (10 ft) and weights greater than 454 kg (1,000 lbs.).

E. Itajara grows so large that some believe it was the great fish that swallowed Jonah, the Jewish prophet of the Old Testament, hence the name “Jewish.” Some groupers are so huge that when they open their mouths to feed, they create a suction that is powerful enough to inhale small prey.

In addition to their possible great size, another defense that some groupers have is the ability to change the color of their skin. The Caribbean Coney (Cephalopods vulva) demonstrates a more advanced color shift.

If disturbed, the Caribbean Coney will try to hide in a coral crevice, which normally has a white, sandy bottom. To blend in with this environment, this fish alters its color so that its lower body fades to white and its spots contract to tiny pinpoints.

Other groupers have developed color patterns composed of stripes, spots, or blotches that help them to blend in with the bottom of coral reef areas. All young yellow mouth groupers (Mycteroperca interstitial is) are born females, but as they grow larger they change into males.

grouper goliath florida fish keys ocean atlantic marine giant protected species mote key line study fishes diving aquarium thread noaa
(Source: mote.org)

Only small percentages survive long enough to become a male, thus ensuring the greater majority are egg-laying females. Even more surprising, some in the genus Serra nus are rare examples of fishes that can be male and female at the same time.

In the United States, Jewish and Nassau groupers (E. stratus) are protected from all harvesting. Bag limits and size restrictions have been placed on other grouper species in the United States as well.

Which is why there are closed seasons for certain fish, ensuring a time when they can be left alone to breed in peace and to perpetuate their species. They are mostly found in the Northern Bahamas but only the Nassau grouper is on the IUCN Red List as an Endangered Species in need of protection.

Sad to say, mankind is the main cause of the population fragility that has led to the official listing, and the imposition of a strict closed season for 3 months between December 1st and February 28th. Scientific studies have shown that commercial overfishing has reduced a thriving population to fewer than 10,000 mature fish.

The Atlantic Goliath grouper 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.

goliath grouper bradenton protected
(Source: www.bradenton.com)

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 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.

florida grouper mouth goliath fish protected inside palm itajara epinephelus neill patrick michael behavior marine
(Source: mpo.photoshelter.com)

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.

Besides shelter, tidal pools provide E. Tamara with plenty of prey such as lobster and porcelain crab. The Atlantic Goliath grouper 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.

grouper goliath florida fl species protected jupiter aggregation spawning during atlantic 800lbs largest itajara endangered epinephelus 1990 since 8ft reaching
(Source: www.gettyimages.com)

^ 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”.

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Sources
1 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_grouper
2 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_goliath_grouper
3 ftw.usatoday.com - https://ftw.usatoday.com/2020/11/watch-angler-near-hysterics-as-giant-grouper-explodes-on-bait