Where are they found?
- Can be found from Senegal to Congo
Western Atlantic Ocean:
- Gulf of Mexico (Florida) to Brazilian and Caribbean waters
- Rarely reported around the Canary Islands
- They can range from around 30 to 160 feet deep, and are always near some form of structure such as a reef, shipwreck, pilings, or possibly large rocks. (Holland, 2014)
What do they look like?
- Fertilized eggs form into kite-shaped larvae with long dorsal fin spines and pelvic fin spines
- They reach juvenile stage at about a month old and are usually confined to mangrove habitats
- Juveniles start at 2.5 cm and don't leave the mangroves until about 1 m in length.
Characteristics of Adults:
- Males mature at 4 to 6 years old, and females mature around 6 to 7 years old
- They begin reproducing when they mature, but just like other groupers they can change their sex.
- Adults range from 1 meter up to 2.5 meters
- They can weigh up to 800 lbs. (Koenig, 2012)
Tan colored to match the ocean floor
Dark colored to match a reef or structure
Light and dark colored to help camouflage in different places
What are their abilities and how do they reproduce?
- They can change their sex. For example, a male can become a female and produce eggs.
- The females lay their eggs in columns of water
- The males then come by and fertilize the eggs
- The fusion of gametes produce an embryo that form into a fish (Koenig, 2006)
- When the grouper has not quite matured yet, it can be eaten by barracudas, king mackerels, sharks, moray eels.
- When it reaches maturity, the grouper's only predators are humans and large sharks
- Almost anything
- They eat lobsters, shrimp, crabs, stingrays, and even octopuses and small sea turtles.
- Small to medium size fish
- Like to steal from fishermen
- They use suction to snatch their prey up from a distance
Status? Threats? Conservation?
- The Goliath Grouper is currently critically endangered on the IUCN red list
- They have been overfished to near extinction.
- Their slow growth rate compared to how heavily they were fished at times does not match. Thus causing the population to decrease dramatically
- During the 1980s when the fish was heavily sought after, the spawning of goliath grouper had decreased by up to 80% in almost every spot recorded by biologist.
- This confirmed that legislative action needed to be set in place.
- The government outlawed the fishing of goliath grouper, and since then numbers have started to increase.
- Main population of goliath grouper are in Florida, they are thriving there. (Koenig, 2012)
Epinephelus itajara. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/195409/0
Bacle. (2014, January 1). Goliath Groupers. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/07/goliath-grouper/holland-text
Koenig, C. (n.d.). Atlantic goliath grouper photo. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.arkive.org/atlantic-goliath-grouper/epinephelus-itajara/image-G65371.html