Epinephelus itajara, The Atlantic giant grouper

Epinephelus itajara off the southwest coast of Florida Thirty meters below the surface, a bang echoed across the water, followed by another bang, like the sound of fireworks coming from afar. The noise came from the shipwreck. The origin is deeper.

Epinephelus itajara

Go under the hull, That was more than a dozen large fish that made the noise.

These giant Atlantic groupers like to gather in shipwrecks and coral reefs. To find food and meet With a body weight that may reach

360 kilograms and three meters long They proclaim their presence to neighboring organisms by squeezing the bladder or alveoli. Which is an organ that helps to float until the sound of a bang!

The Atlantic giant grouper (Epinephelus itajara) used to be more abundant and widespread than today. They are tens of thousands. They live in waters in the southern United States. Caribbean and Brazil, but after being a victim of

Harpoon and sharp hook, each full hull for many years in a row Their number had dropped so much that it was unknown how much was left. Perhaps less than a thousand of them are. Today Florida’s giant grouper is recovering, fishermen, biologists.

And local officials argued that Are they large enough to revoke their legally protected status?

Chris Koenig from Florida State University Epinephelus itajara has been caught for decades. He fell and threw them onto a small boat to measure, cut off the cartilaginous fins to collect DNA and check their age. Collect samples from the stomach for study.

What does it eat?

As well as to check the reproductive organs for signs of egg laying Then a tag or pager is placed under the skin. Before scientists can help push the fish back to the sea. Following these caught and released fish

Allows Kenik to collect information about where and when they appeared. Including the health of each fish

Their behavior also contributed to the decline in the population, Kenik said, “Usually this fish rarely goes anywhere. They linger over the coral reefs, ”with ample food and refuge.

The giant grouper is therefore a very still target. 86-year-old Frank Hammette recalls: “We used a harpoon gun to shoot giant grouper. In Palm Beach, you can see them still underwater. 30 meters deep, each point should have a hundred fish. I’ll shoot one or two. Get a price of 16 cents per kilogram, do that for 15 years or longer. “

By the 1990s, it was identify that the giant grouper was at risk of extinction. It is protect by law in the southeastern Unite States. The population of giant grouper gradually Recovered since then And attracting scuba divers who love to

Swam with a giant fish But there is no danger The biggest recovery happen off the southwest coast of Florida. Where the mangrove forest which is a nursery for young fish is still crowd

What follows is predictable in conservation circles. That is, the opinion of the giant grouper is clearly split into two sides. The fact that the giant grouper in most species is still critically endangered. Make them remain “Prohibited items” by law in Florida.

Still, many fishermen insist that This fish was raise in an army. And moaning that the giant fish harasses their livelihoods, commercial fisherman and guide Jim Thomas complains, “We saw giant grouper.

Repeatedly snatching grouper and snapper from our rods. And then there are more lobster. I must say that it’s a lot of waste. ”He is one of many. People who want to have giant grouper fishing.

Kenik countered the allegations that Giant grouper eats with the sweat of a fisherman. By raising the results of several studies that show that A giant grouper that feeds on small and slow prey. (More than half of their food is crab. Not the lobster)

He pointed out that the growing licenses to catch giant grouper in Florida. It can affect the overall recovery. Most of these fish live in shallow reefs, rocks and their original shipwrecks.

That’s it, the giant grouper is already reluctant to migrate, ”explains Kenik. There was no reason to persuade the rest of the giant grouper to migrate to the place where their fellow tribes had died. And that means the recovery will not spread as it should.

The future of the giant grouper also depends on the nursery in mangrove forests. Where a young fish relied on the roots that fluttered together, it was a refuge until about five years old. But the development along the coast

Agricultural activity And pollution is threatening habitats in these shallow waters. Finally arrived Both fishermen and biologists And government officials have the same aim That is the population

A giant grouper that is strong and strong enough to attract more divers. And to sustain himself from fishing to a certain extent without the extinction of the species As the debate continues The giant grouper that spoke about it was still crying under the waves.