The grouper fish is on every scuba divers’ wish-list. They are huge, powerful and clever. The grouper fish lives on different regions of the world. There are more than 100 different species of groupers. Their anathomy is similar, but they differ in colors and the location they live. The groupers belong to subfamily Epinephelinae of the family Serranidae. Name “grouper” is tought to be coming from the Portuguese word for this fish: “garoupa“.
Characteristics of the Grouper Fish
The grouper fish has a large body and wide mouth. It is not rare to see a grouper that has a length of more than 1 meters and weighs more than 100 kgs. Their gills are surrounded by strong muscles. Groupers vary in colors and pattern. It is though that they gain 1 kg each year and may live up to 50 years. Thus, if you see a grouper in one of your dives and think that it may weigh like 20 kgs, that grouper is possibly 20 years old. Their skin is ticker than the other fish. They are carnivores and “suck” their pray. The grouper fish also use their gills to vent the sand and look for prays to hunt. It is told that sometimes they co-oparete with morays while hunting. They generally live alone in their caves. Some large species are really territorial. The young individuals live in shallow waters and the adults in deep waters.
The groupers eat fish, crustaceans and octopus.
It seems rare but there are some cases of attack to scuba divers and swimmers. Some large males of Goliath Groupers’ (Epinephelus itajara) attack has been recorded. But the attacks are generally to the fish stringers that underwater hunters carry. You can watch one of these attacks below and can easily understand that the grouper doesn’t actually attack the diver, but the fish.
The grouper fish are hermaphrodite, which means that they may become both males and females. To be able to become a
female, a grouper should be at least 5-8 years old and be 12-18 years old to become a male. As you can understand from this information, it takes time to be able to breed for groupers.
The males generally have harems.The groupers breed offshore and the pelagic larvae returns to the inshore for nursery.
The grouper fish have a tasty meat that doesn’t contain fat but vitamins. And because they are large, they are on the fishers’ “wanted” list. Especially while they are breeding, they are getting hunted. That’s because the breeding occurs offshore (they are not in their caves) and they are in groups. Illegal and overfishing is their main enemy.
Other treats the groupers face are the loss of habitat and water pollution just like the other animals.
Globally, the population of the grouper fish have been decreased especially in the last 20 years. Atlantic goliath grouper, forexample, has a conservational status of “Critically Endangered“.
Photos used in this article has been taken by underwater photographer Volkan Anik.
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