skip to main content

Gentle Giants: Goliath Grouper

4 minutes

(Describer) Under a round logo of a wave, title: Ocean Today.

(Describer) Against the background of many fish swimming together, title: Gentle Giants: Goliath Grouper.

(female narrator) Sometimes while diving, you hear them before you see them. Then their enormous outlines come into view. These gentle giants are goliath grouper-- the largest of the groupers in the Atlantic Basin. Goliath grouper, which were once known as jewfish, can grow to more than eight feet in length and 800 pounds. From July through September, goliath groupers converge at special locations to spawn. As a group, they release milt, or sperm, and eggs into ocean currents to create the next generation of goliaths. After hatching in the open ocean, these baby fish make their way into coastal mangrove estuaries, or areas where salt and freshwater mix. Here, they settle in leaf litter along the muddy bottom. They remain in the mangroves, gorging themselves on shrimp, crabs, and fish for approximately six years. Then they begin to migrate offshore to reefs and shipwrecks where they grow and mature and eventually join other spawning groups to keep the population healthy and growing. These giant groupers were once so overfished in the Southeastern United States, they were considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. As fishers got better at locating shipwrecks and reefs, and used more sophisticated and lethal fishing gear, these gentle giants didn't stand a chance. Rampant development along mangrove coasts has also degraded their juvenile habitat, causing a decline in population. Thankfully, a vocal and dedicated group of fishers and marine scientists worked together to prompt NOAA to ban all harvest of goliath grouper. This action in the early 1990s gave the grouper time to recover and gave scientists time to learn more about this fish in hopes of sustaining its rebound. Scientists have been eager to learn more about the goliath grouper. How many are there? Is mangrove destruction limiting their comeback? What does spawning behavior look like? To date, marine scientists have tagged thousands of goliath grouper to study these questions and many more. Goliath grouper mean many things to different people. They once were fished for food, or simply as a trophy. Now more and more people are enjoying swimming with goliath grouper in their natural habitat, watching them interact with divers in their environment, and taking beautiful photos of this charismatic animal. Fishers have also been encouraged by their comeback, taking advantage of a robust catch-and-release fishery. With careful management, everyone can experience these exciting fish in a variety of ways, with fishing rod or camera, for generations to come.

(Describer) One of the huge fish is covered with light and dark spots and stripes. Logos are shown for the Smithsonian and NOAA. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

Transcript Options


Now Playing As: Captioned (English) (change)

Report a Problem

Goliath groupers are the largest of the groupers in the Atlantic basin. They were once so overfished in the Southeastern United States, they were considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Thankfully, a dedicated group of marine scientists worked to prompt NOAA to ban all of their harvest. This action in the early 1990s gave the grouper time to recover and gave scientists time to learn more about this fish.

Media Details

Runtime: 4 minutes

Johan: The Young Scientist
Episode 12
13 minutes
Grade Level: K - 3
Nature
Season 26 / Ep 4
31 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Animapaka (Spanish)
Episode 15
14 minutes
Grade Level: 1 - 3
Creatures of the Deep
Episode 1
1 minute
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Creatures of the Deep
Episode 2
1 minute
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Creatures of the Deep
Episode 3
1 minute
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Creatures of the Deep
Episode 4
1 minute
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Crittercam
Season 1 / Ep 9
24 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Curiosity Quest
Season 5 / Ep 12
26 minutes
Grade Level: 5 - 8
45 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12