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Episode 101: Super Grouper
Florida’s underwater giants are back! After years of over-harvesting, Goliath Grouper have made a noticeable resurgence off of Florida’s coasts. Changing Seas joins scientists in the field as they study the life history of these awe-inspiring fish. Their goal is to gain a better understanding of the species and the obstacles it faces on the road to full recovery.

Weighing up to a thousand pounds and reaching seven feet in length, Goliath Grouper, Epinephelus itajara, are the Atlantic Ocean’s largest species of fish in the sea bass family. Formerly known as Jewfish, years of over-harvesting severely reduced the Goliath’s numbers, and in 1990 the fishery was closed in U.S. waters. Since then, the species has had time to slowly regenerate in Florida and the fish are once again seen on popular dive sites, especially in the summertime when the animals aggregate to spawn.

But this recovery hasn’t been a welcome sight to all – some recreational fishermen believe goliath grouper are devouring popular game fish, and that it is time to re-open the fishery. Scientists, however, have conducted studies on the grouper’s diet and determined that their main source of food is crustaceans – and not other groupers and snappers. Researchers say it’s too early to re-open the fishery. While they are encouraged by the goliath’s recovery in Florida, the fish remain critically endangered throughout the rest of their range.

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