Atlantic goliath grouper
Atlantic goliath grouper

Atlantic goliath grouper

Atlantic goliath grouper

The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara, also known as the jewfish, 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, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean, and practically all of the Brazilian coast. On some occasions, it is caught in New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.

Young Atlantic goliath grouper 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 of 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 309 kg (681 lb), caught off Fernandina Beach, Florida, in 1961. They are usually around 180 kg (400 lb) when mature. Considered of fine food quality, Atlantic goliath grouper were a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen. The grouper’s inquisitive and generally fearless nature makes 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.

Goliath grouper eat crustaceans, other fish, octopi, young sea turtles, sharks, and barracudas. It is known to attack divers, and has even been seen attacking large lemon sharks.

Goliath groupers are believed to be protogynous hermaphrodites, which refer to organisms that are born female and at some point in their lifespan change s*x to male. Most grouper follow this pattern, but it has not yet been verified for the goliath. In fact, males could be sexually mature at smaller sizes and younger ages than females.