Divers across the globe have their eyes on the Jupiter coast for the next few months, as hundreds of goliath grouper -- some the size of golf carts and up to eight feet in length will make their way off the coast for mating season. This annual phenomenon, known as the Atlantic Goliath Grouper aggregation which provides divers with a one-of-a-kind experience right off the Jupiter coastline. The Goliath Grouper is the largest of the grouper species in the western hemisphere. The grouper can reach 8ft in length, weigh more than 1000 lbs and has a lifespan of 30-50 years. Their heads and fins have tiny dark spots, their sides irregular dark bars, their tail is rounded, and their eyes are small.
Every year, spawning aggregations of up to 100-150 Goliath groupers occur at specific times and locations. Goliaths travel over one hundred miles to spawn. One of these grouper aggregation locations right here is right here in our own backyard ocean. The grouper aggregation occurs every year between the end of August through October.
Adult goliaths are usually solitary, sedentary, and territorial when they are not feeding or spawning. Barracuda, king mackerel, moray eels, and hammerhead sharks can attack the goliath grouper before it reaches full size however when fully grown only humans and massive sharks are predators of the goliath grouper.
Giant Goliath Groupers are NOT good to eat. Although, Goliath Groupers can be found on the menu in other countries such as Cuba. If you hook one, you should practice catch and release methods when you encounter them. Anglers claim that the Goliath grouper is a popular gamefish in areas. They are illegal to fish out of season. In October 2021, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a proposal to allow the harvest of 200 goliath grouper by anglers from March to May 2022. This was the first time the giant fish was allowed to be harvested in the United States since 1990.
The Jupiter Dive Center offers an extensive diving experience to see these mammoth creatures. The center runs regular boat trips for two-tank dives on the MG-111 wreck, the local ledge reef system, and other sites where the Goliaths are known to gather. According to their website, during this time of year, divers can expect to see up to sixty groupers along the “wreck trek.”
For more info from the Jupiter Dive Center click here!