Atlantic Goliath Grouper – Jewfish Profile | Traits | Facts | Catch

Atlantic goliath grouper

The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara, scientific name Epinephelus itajara, also called the jewfish, is a big saltwater fish of the grouper family discovered primarily in shallow tropical waters amongst the coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m (16 to 164 ft).

Atlantic goliath grouper Overview

On the Western facet, its range contains the Florida Keys within the US, the Bahamas, many of the Caribbean, and many of the Brazilian coast. On some events, it’s caught off the coasts of the US states of Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it happens from the Congo to Senegal.

The goliath grouper is the biggest grouper species within the Atlantic Ocean weighing as much as 800 pounds. They have been as soon as so overfished within the southeastern United States, they have been thought of for itemizing below the Endangered Species Act.

The goliath grouper is discovered primarily in shallow tropical waters amongst the coral and artificial reefs. Its range contains the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys within the United States, the Bahamas, many of the Caribbean, and many of the Brazilian coast.

On some events, goliath grouper have been caught off the coast of New England in Massachusetts and Maine. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, goliath grouper are discovered off the coast of Africa from the Congo to Senegal.

At one time, it was thought the Atlantic and Pacific Goliath Groupers have been the same species, and centuries ago, they have been the same species. They are actually thought of as sister species. There are just a few distinguishing marks between the 2.

The Pacific Goliath Grouper has primarily darkish gray coloration, which is punctuated by small, white spots and blotches, and many instances yellow accenting their fins. The Atlantic Goliath Grouper is mottled tan and gray. The Atlantic Grouper can be bigger than the Pacific species.

Atlantic goliath grouper

Atlantic goliath grouper Description

Young Atlantic goliath groupers could live in brackish estuaries, oyster beds, canals, and mangrove swamps, which is uncommon behavior amongst groupers.

As the name implies, it is a gigantic species of Grouper. As the most important Grouper within the western Atlantic, they’re stocky in form, have tiny eyes and broadheads. Their pectoral and tail fins are related alongside the back. They can live in brackish water and tolerate low oxygen ranges.

They can develop to eight feet in size and weigh as much as 800 pounds.

They could attain extraordinarily massive sizes, rising to lengths as much as 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and might weigh as a lot as 360 kg (790 lb). The word document for a hook-and-line-captured specimen is 308.44 kg (680.0 lb), caught off Fernandina Beach, Florida, in 1961.

They are often around 180 kg (400 lb) when mature. Considered of superb meal quality, Atlantic goliath grouper has been a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen.

It is a comparatively straightforward prey for spearfishermen due to the grouper’s inquisitive and usually fearless nature. They additionally are inclined to spawn in massive aggregations, returning yearly to the same areas. This makes them significantly weak to mass harvesting whereas breeding.

Until a harvest ban was positioned on the species, its inhabitants were in fast decline. The fish is acknowledged as “vulnerable” globally and “endangered” within the Gulf of Mexico.

It is totally shielded from harvest. The US started safety in 1990, and the Caribbean in 1993. The species’ inhabitants have been recovering because of the ban; with the fish’s gradual growth rate, nonetheless, a while shall be wanted for populations to return to their earlier ranges.

Goliath groupers eat crustaceans, different fish, octopuses, younger sea turtles, sharks, and barracudas. They are recognized to assault divers and have even been seen attacking massive lemon sharks.


Goliath groupers are believed to be protogynous hermaphrodites, which consult with organisms that can be born feminine and in some unspecified time in the future of their lifespans change sex to male.

Most grouper comply with this pattern, however, this has not but been verified for the goliath. Males could be sexually mature at about 115 centimeters (45 in), and ages 4–6 years. Females mature around 125 centimeters (49 in), and about 6–8 years.

Atlantic goliath grouper

Atlantic goliath grouper Facts

Adult Goliath Groupers collect collectively in spawning teams as quickly as they ready to mate. The teams range in size, quantity, and placement. Once they’re collective, the females lay eggs.

Once the males fertilize the eggs, they rise to the floor of the water. The eggs then drift with the ocean currents for about 40 to 60 days, reaching the nursery areas because the child groupers hatch out.

These tiny groupers swim to the underside of the ocean and conceal in sea mangroves and grasses till they develop bigger.

They could experience a sex reversal with age. All younger groupers are feminine, however as they get older, some turn out to be male. Only small percentages stay out of maturity long sufficient to turn out to be males, thus making certain that almost all groupers are egg-laying females.

In addition to its probably massive size, more protection that some Groupers have is the power to vary their skin shade. At instances, the color change is so simple as altering from darkish to light to combine in with completely different light ranges.

Other Groupers have developed colorful patterns consisting of stripes, blotches, or spots that assist them to mix with the ocean ground and reef backside.

Goliath Groupers are recognized to live 35 years, however, now some scientists estimate the lifespan for these mammoth fish is 50 – 100 years.

Divers beware! These groupers are recognized to stalk divers.

Atlantic goliath grouper Habitat & Distribution

Juveniles live and survive in canals, brackish estuaries, and mangrove swamps. When they mature, they transfer to shallow, tropical waters amongst coral or artificial reefs. Notably, they’re one of many few groupers present in brackish water.

Goliath Grouper are loners. There are restricted dwelling ranges; these fish could be alone. They are primarily present in shallow, tropical waters in man-made and natural buildings particularly coral reefs.

In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, they navigate yearly to a spawning space for breeding; the situation and season range in line with the inhabitants.

The Goliath Grouper’s inhabitants are concentrated within the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys. Occasionally, they’re discovered as far north as New England on the coast of Massachusetts and Maine.

They are additionally discovered within the Caribbean and components of South America.

Atlantic goliath grouper

Atlantic goliath grouper Bait and Lures

Goliath Groupers feed on sea turtles and crustaceans, largely crabs. Other slow-moving fish equivalent to burrfish, catfish, toadfish, and octopus shall be discovered of their diet. These can be good fish to make use of as bait together with ladyfish and crevalle jack. Lures can be unsuccessful with these enormous fish.

Fishing Techniques – How to Catch Atlantic goliath grouper

The rod and reel you utilize need to be robust and extra-heavy since these fish are recognized to interrupt gear. Goliath Grouper places up an intense however often short-lived struggle.

That first pull shall be sufficient to drag you right off the boat if you’re not cautious, so be ready. You will need a very heavy rod.

Considering the shallow water depth and size of this fish, we advise a 50-80 extensive reel. It ought to be adequate to accommodate the 400 – 600 pound monofilament fishing line you’ll need.

And as these fish live close to rocks, reefs, and buildings, you’ll need a line with some stretch. A 600-pound check monofilament fishing line is abrasion-resistant and offers you what you need. We additionally suggest a 20/O circle hook, sufficiently big to get across the huge jaws of this fish.

The key to Grouper fishing is anchoring shut sufficient to the reef so you will get the fish will come out to take the bait, but additionally distant sufficient to have an opportunity to drag them away from the reef before they attempt to get back and break you off.

One necessary tip when fishing is to bounce the bait off the underside to create some commotion. They haven’t any predators, and they don’t seem to be shy.

Atlantic goliath grouper Population

A harmful mixture of things going towards the Goliath is that they’re sluggish fish which can be gradual to develop and reproduce. Secondly, contemplating their massive size, they’re present in comparatively shallow waters of around 150 feet.

These are harmful mixture. They have experienced an estimated 80% inhabitants discount due to overfishing. Because of this, all harvests of Goliath Groupers are forbidden by regulation.

Remember, these superb fish are protected, and all of us ought to be doing our half. Adhere to the principles of catch and launch and depart these fish unhurt.

Atlantic goliath grouper

Atlantic goliath grouper World Record

The world record for a hook-and-line caught Goliath Grouper is 680 pounds caught off Fernandina Beach, Florida, in 1961.


In May 2015, the Atlantic goliath grouper was efficiently bred in captivity for the first time. Since Epinephelus itajara are Vulnerable it is necessary that conservation efforts for the E. itajara are targeted on their habitat.

Tidal swimming pools act as nurseries for juvenile E. itajara. In tidal pools juvenile E.itajara are capable of making the most of rocky crevices for shelter. Besides shelter, tidal swimming pools present E. itajara with loads of prey equivalent to lobster and porcelain crab.

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