Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Atlantic goliath grouper


Atlantic goliath grouper
Conservation status
Critically Endangered (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification
Species:E. itajara
Binomial name
Epinephelus itajara
(Lichtenstein, 1822)
The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara (Epinephelus itajara), commonly 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 as well as in Azores, where they are known as mero. On some occasions, it is caught in New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from Congo to Senegal.


Young Atlantic goliath grouper may live in brackish estuaries, canals, and mangrove swamps, which is unusual behavior among groupers.

Atlantic goliath grouper
They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths of up to 3 m 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.[2] They are usually around 180 kg 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.
Until a harvest ban was placed on the species, its population was in rapid decline. The fish is entirely protected from harvest and is recognized as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).[1] The US began protection in 1990, and the Caribbean in 1993. The species' population has been recovering since the ban; with the fish's slow growth rate, however, it will take some time for populations to return to their previous levels. Many conservationists are concerned that size-selective harvesting (seeking large fish and throwing back the small ones) may have inadvertently selected for smaller size, and fish of the size encountered so often in the mid-20th century may be lost forever[citation needed].
Goliath grouper eat crustaceans, other fish, octopuses, young sea turtles, sharks, and barracudas.


Goliath groupers are believed to be protogynous hermaphrodites, with individuals first maturing as females and only some large adults becoming males. Most grouper follow this pattern, but it has not yet been verified for the goliath.[3] In fact, Bullock et al. found males could be sexually mature at smaller sizes (~1150 mm) and younger ages (4–6 years) than females (~1225 mm and ~6–8 years).[4]


The common name of the goliath grouper is jewfish but, in 2001, the American Fisheries Society stopped using that terminology due to the potentially offensive nature of the name.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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