Got2Dive Goliath Grouper Aggregation

Scuba Diving South Florida

 


It was a warm, balmy Saturday evening with a beautiful full moon hanging low in the night sky. We boarded the boat charter with excitement and anticipation with our SCUBA dive buddies Mark, Robbin, Scott and Dale. We had the awesome opportunity to meet and dive with the “Grouper Whisperer” herself, Sarah Frias-Torres, PhD. Dr. Frias-Torres is an independent researcher, scientist and SCUBA diver here in Florida studying the Goliath Grouper Aggregation.

 

 

 We had heard so much about the goliath grouper and their awesome spawning that occurs during the months of July through October.  As we headed out to some wrecks off of Jupiter Florida, Dr. Frias-Torres briefed us on the naturally occurring event she called, goliath groupers on their honeymoon. This honeymoon, or spawning, occurs in late summer as the goliath grouper congregate at several diving locations in Jupiter.

 

 

 

 The dive plan was to dive the Jupiter wrecks where large numbers of goliath grouper have been known to congregate. We learned that the gender of these grouper is evidenced by their color, with the light tan groupers being female and the darker groupers the males. The male grouper will try to impress and court the females by what Dr. Frias-Torres describes as a synchronized ballet dance under the moonlit ocean. The females will choose who will fertilize her eggs, as the male does his best to astound her with his underwater ballet. Once the female chooses her mate, she will release her eggs to be fertilized externally.  And according to Dr. Frias-Torres, Florida is the only place in the world for SCUBA divers to witness the spawning of large amounts of goliath grouper during their spawning aggregation season.

Although we didn’t get the chance to capture on video the release and fertilization of the goliath grouper eggs, we were able to capture a wonderful display of underwater courtship. The incredible amount and size of this fish was astounding. I also experienced a deep booming sound, a defensive bark made by the goliath grouper that I felt vibrate through my body, indicating that a diver approached the giant fish too closely. The Goliath Grouper Aggregation was an amazing SCUBA diving experience and is a definite must to add to your Got2Dive plan. Stay salty my friends!

To find out more about Dr. Sarah Frias-Torres and her goliath grouper research and how you can help, E-mail: sfriastorres@gmail.com