Goliath Groupers in Jupiter, FL
The Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara) is the largest of the grouper species in the western
hemisphere. The grouper can reach 8ft in length, weigh more than 1000lbs and has a lifespan of
30-50 years. Their heads and fins have tiny dark spots, their sides irregular dark bars, their tail is
rounded and their eyes are small and set forward.
Goliaths are opportunistic predators and have teeth that they could use, but they rather engulf
and swallow their prey whole. Prey is ambushed, caught by a rapid expansion and opening of
the mouth that allows prey to be sucked in and swallowed whole. Their diet exists mostly of
slow-moving, bottom associated species like crabs, and other invertebrates and fish.
Every year, spawning aggregations of up to 100-150 Goliath groupers occur at specific times
and locations. Some individuals travel over 100 miles to spawn and we are lucky to have several
of these grouper aggregation locations right here in our backyard. Every year between the end
of August and October, we see the Goliath groupers coming together around several of our
wreck sites here in Jupiter to spawn. It’s an incredible sight to see such large numbers of these
‘gentle giants’ in one spot.
The Goliath Grouper is no longer listed on the NOAA Species of concern list, but they remain as a ‘no take’ fish in the US. The FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
manages the Goliath Grouper in state waters and has been hosting several ‘Goliath grouper
workshops’ for input regarding potential harvest of Goliath Grouper in Florida waters.
We’re hoping that the dive community voices will be heard and that the Goliath Grouper will remain protected.