GrouperGoliathDRP.jpg

Goliath Grouper: Epinephelus itajara

Appearance:

  • Head and fins have tiny dark spots
  • Irregular dark bars on the sides
  • Eyes are small and set forward
  • Caudal and pectoral fins are rounded
  • First dorsal fin is much shorter than the second dorsal fin
  • Dorsal spines low; all nearly the same height

Similar Species: Warsaw grouper, H. nigritus (dorsal spines at varying heights)

Size: Up to 8 feet and 800 pounds; largest grouper species in western Atlantic waters

Habitat:

Coastal and nearshore waters over structure or muddy bottoms. Young often occur in estuaries, especially around oyster bars. More abundant in southern Florida than in northern waters.

Behavior:

Spawn during summer months and have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years.

Opportunistic predators and feed mostly on slow-moving, bottom-associated species. Calico crabs make up the majority of their diet, with other invertebrate species and fish filling in the rest. Will occasionally feed on fish that are struggling on a fishing line, but they have not been shown to actively hunt down fast, free swimming fish such as snappers and groupers. Prey is ambushed, caught by a rapid expansion and opening of the mouth that allows prey to be sucked in and swallowed whole.

Additional Information

State Record:External Website 680 lb, caught near Fernandina Beach (1961)

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles



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