Episode 101 - Super Grouper

Florida’s underwater giants are back! After years of over-harvesting, Goliath Grouper have made a noticeable resurgence off of Florida’s coasts. Changing Seas joins scientists in the field as they study the life history of these awe-inspiring fish. Their goal is to gain a better understanding of the species and the obstacles it faces on the road to full recovery.

Weighing up to a thousand pounds and reaching seven feet in length, Goliath Grouper, Epinephelus itajara, are the Atlantic Ocean’s largest species of fish in the sea bass family. Formerly known as Jewfish, years of over-harvesting severely reduced the Goliath’s numbers, and in 1990 the fishery was closed in U.S. waters. Since then, the species has had time to slowly regenerate in Florida and the fish are once again seen on popular dive sites, especially in the summertime when the animals aggregate to spawn.

But this recovery hasn’t been a welcome sight to all – some recreational fishermen believe Goliath Grouper are devouring popular game fish, and that it is time to re-open the fishery. Scientists, however, have conducted studies on the grouper’s diet and determined that their main source of food is crustaceans – and not other groupers and snappers. Researchers say it’s too early to re-open the fishery. While they are encouraged by the Goliath’s recovery in Florida, the fish remain critically endangered throughout the rest of their range.


Experts

Meet the experts featured in this episode.


Special Thanks:


Miami Dive Stop
16604 NE 2nd Ave
N. Miami Beach, FL 33162
(305) 940-0927

Emerald Charters
Jupiter, FL
(561) 248-8332

Parmer's Resort
565 Barry Ave
MM 28.5
Little Torch Key, FL 33042
(305) 872-2157

Best Western Plus
Wakulla Inn & Suites

3292 Coastal Highway 98
Crawfordville, FL 32327
(850) 926-3737

Sleep Inn and Suites
4110 SW 40th Boulevard
Gainesville, FL 32608
(352) 376-4145

Super 8 Motel
North Palm Beach

757 US Highway 1
North Palm Beach, FL 33408
(561) 848-1424

Image Credits

Changing Seas would like to thank the following individuals and institutions who kindly allowed their footage, images and other media to be used in this production:

Shark Attack Productions
Ed Pence

Tony Grogan
Spearboard.com

Walt Stearns
UnderwaterJournal.com

Chris Martens
UNC-Chapel Hill
Department of Marine Science

State Archives of Florida

Monroe County Public Library
Mile Markers Photo Collection
Dale M. McDonald Photo Collection

Don DeMaria

Chris Koenig
Florida State University
Coastal and Marine Laboratory

Debra Murie
University of Florida
Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Walt Stearns
UnderwaterJournal.com

NASA WorldWind

James Locascio
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science


Funding for this episode of Changing Seas was provided by: