Atlantic Goliath Grouper
Paul Katsus is a Katy, Texas angular who plans to someday catch the relatively rare Atlantic
Goliath Grouper. Paul Katsus would relish the idea of catching a monster fish that can grow to 8
foot in length and weigh up to 790 pounds! The world record for the Atlantic Grouper is 680
pounds and was caught off the Florida coast at Fernandina Beach, in 1961. The Atlantic Grouper
is protected from harvest and is recognized as a critically endangered species by the ICUN. Any
Atlantic Grouper caught would be under a legal catch and return basis. In the US, protection
began in 1990, and the Caribbean soon followed in 1993. Fortunately since the ban, the species'
population has been recovering but because of the fish's slow growth rate, it will be some time
before the populations to return to their previous levels.
Goliath Grouper feed on crustaceans, other fish, young sea turtles, barracudas and even sharks.
In fact, they have been observed attacking large lemon sharks and usually feed on other large
fishes. They have also been known to sometimes attack divers. Interestingly, do not chew they
their prey but rather they swallow them whole. The Goliath Grouper, a predator hunter, will
usually ambush its prey on the reefs. Reefs that contain healthy numbers of predators, like the
Atlantic Goliath Grouper, are healthier reefs. This makes them a very important part of the life
cycle of a vibrant reef. The young Atlantic Goliath Grouper may not live on the reefs but rather
in brackish estuaries, on oyster beds, canals, and in mangrove swamps. The Atlantic Goliath
Grouper range on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, The Caribbean Sea, and off the west coast
of Africa. The Pacific Goliath Grouper is a genetically similar species that range from the eastern
tropical Pacific Ocean, from Mexico to Peru. The two species are similar is both appearance and
behavior, but because there has been less research and records on the species, little is known
about the population trends or conservation status of the Pacific Goliath Grouper.