Atlantic goliath grouper

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Atlantic goliath grouper
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Serranidae
Genus: Epinephelus
Species: E. itajara
Binomial name
Epinephelus itajara
(Lichtenstein, 1822)

The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara (Epinephelus itajara) 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. On some occasions, it is caught in New England off Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.


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

Atlantic goliath grouper

They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) 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 (400 lb) 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 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, some time will be needed for populations to return to their previous levels.

Goliath grouper eat crustaceans, other fish, octopuses, young sea turtles, sharks, and barracudas. They are known to attack divers, and have even been seen attacking large lemon sharks.[citation needed]


Goliath groupers are believed to be protogynous hermaphrodites, which refer to organisms that are born female and at some point in their lifespans change sex to male. Most grouper follow this pattern, but this has not yet been verified for the goliath.[3] In fact, males could be sexually mature at smaller sizes (about 115 cm) and younger ages (4–6 years) than females (about 125  cm and about 6–8 years).[4]


In May 2015, the Atlantic goliath grouper was successfully bred in captivity for the first time. [5][6][7]


As other fish, the Atlantic goliath grouper is the host of several species of parasites, including the diplectanid monogenean Pseudorhabdosynochus americanus on its gills.[8]


The Atlantic goliath grouper has been referred to as the jewfish, but in 2001, the American Fisheries Society stopped using that term because they felt that it was "culturally insensitive".[9]


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