When you look at this picture of a juvenile goliath grouper, it’s hard to believe that it can grow to 800lbs and 3 metres long!
Formerly known as the jewfish, the Atlantic goliath grouper is the largest member of the grouper family. It is found in the Azores, parts of West Africa, the Caribbean, and along parts of both the east and west coasts of South America. The world record rod-caught grouper came off Fernandina Beach, Florida in 1961, weighting 680lb (308kg), but it is believed they grow up to 1000lbs and measure more than 3 metres in length.
Goliath grouper was once a prized meat but, being relatively fearless, it was easy to catch and its numbers went into serious decline. It was recognized as a critically endangered species by the World Conservation Union, gaining protection in the USA in 1990 and in the Caribbean in 1993. The species has been recovering ever since but some suspect that, by harvesting the larger fish and leaving the smaller ones for so many years, the average size of the fish has been altered forever.
If you don’t believe the part about them being fearless, watch this goliath grouper video, where the fish takes on a spear fisherman…
Goliath grouper eat crustaceans, fish and sometimes sharks…!
The American Fisheries Society renamed goliath grouper from ‘jewfish’ in 2001, as the name was deemed potentially offensive!
Photography: ‘Juvenile Goliath Grouper’ courtesy of Collier County Sea Grant Extension Program; ‘Giant Grouper’ anonymous.