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Red Grouper - Gag Grouper - Goliath Grouper

Groupers are teleosts, typically having a stout body and a large mouth. They are not built for long-distance fast swimming. They can be quite large, and lengths over a meter and weights up to 100 kg are not uncommon, though obviously in such a large group species vary considerably. They swallow prey rather than biting pieces off it. They do not have many teeth on the edges of their jaws, but they have heavy crushing tooth plates inside the pharynx. They habitually eat fish, octopus, crab, and lobster. They lie in wait, rather than chasing in open water. According to the film-maker Graham Ferreira, there is at least one record, from Mozambique, of a human being killed by one of these fish.

Their mouth and gills form a powerful sucking system that sucks their prey in from a distance. They also use their mouth to dig into sand to form their shelters under big rocks, jetting it out through their gills. Their gill muscles are so powerful that it is nearly impossible to pull them out of their cave if they feel attacked and extend those muscles to lock themselves in.

There is some research indicating that roving coral groupers (Plectropomus pessuliferus) sometimes cooperate with giant morays in hunting.

 

The gag grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis) is a drab, mottled gray fish lacking the distinguishing features of other groupers. It has a pattern of markings which resemble the box-shaped spots of the black grouper. It lacks the streamer-points on the tail fin that scamp (Mycteroperca phenax) and yellowmouth grouper (M. interstitialis) have and lacks yellow coloration around the mouth.

Ten- to twenty-pound (5 to 10 kg) fish are common. The world record is 80 lb 6 oz (36.45 kg). The gag grouper is a bottomfeeder and is often caught by fishermen seeking bottom-dwelling species such as snappers. It has flaky white meat that is considered quite delicious.

Members of this species are known to be protogynous hermaphrodites, schooling in harems with the most aggressive and largest females shifting sex to male, probably as a result of behavioral triggers, when there is no male available. Commercial and sport fishing have created tremendous selective pressures against the largest animals, typically male, restricting the reproductive capacity of the entire breeding population. Recently, a small closure in the Gulf of Mexico was established to provide this and other species a refuge from commercial fishing pressure, however, this data is highly in dispute and is currently being challenged for inaccuracies. They are found in areas of hard or consolidated substrate, and use structural features such as ledges, rocks, and coral reefs ( as well as artificial reefs like wrecks and sunken barges) as their habitat.

 

The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara (Epinephelus itajara) is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family. It is commonly known as the jewfish; however, in 2001 the Committee on Names of Fishes, a seven-member joint committee of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists and the American Fisheries Society made the decision to change the name to "Goliath Grouper". Genus Epinephelus also includes the Pacific goliath grouper.

The goliath grouper is found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths of up to 165 feet (50 m). Their range includes the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean, and practically all of the Brazilian coast, where they are known as mero. On some occasions it is caught in New England off Maine and Massachusetts but it is not that common. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from Congo to Senegal.

Young grouper may live in brackish estuaries, canals, and mangrove swamps, unusual behavior among grouper.

Atlantic goliath grouper

They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths of 8.2 feet (2.5 m) and can weigh as much as 800 pounds (363 kg). In Florida, the largest hook and line captured specimen weighed 680 pounds (309 kg). They are usually around 400 lb when mature. Considered of fine food quality, the goliath grouper were a highly sought after quarry for fishermen of all types. The goliath grouper's inquisitive and generally fearless nature make it a relatively easy prey for spear fishermen. They also tend to spawn in large aggregations returning like clockwork to the same locations making them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting. Until a harvest ban was placed on the species, the species was in rapid decline. The goliath grouper is entirely protected from harvest and is recognized as a critically endangered species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The U.S. began protection in 1990 and the Caribbean in 1993. The species' population has been recovering since the ban, however with the fish's slow growth rate it will take some time for populations to return to their previous levels.

Information courtesy of Wikipedia
 

 

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