The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara (Epinephelus itajara), also known as the jewfish, is a large saltwater fish of the grouper family found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths from 5 to 50 m (16 to 164 ft). On the Western side, its range includes the Florida Keys in the US, the Bahamas, most of the Caribbean and most of the Brazilian coast. On some occasions, it is caught off the coasts of the US states of Maine and Massachusetts. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it occurs from the Congo to Senegal.
Young Atlantic goliath groupers may live in brackish estuaries, oyster beds, canals, and mangrove swamps, which is unusual behavior among groupers. They may reach extremely large sizes, growing to lengths up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and can weigh as much as 360 kg (790 lb). The world record for a hook-and-line-captured specimen is 308.44 kg (680.0 lb), caught off Fernandina Beach, Florida, in 1961. They are usually around 180 kg (400 lb) when mature. Considered of fine food quality, Atlantic goliath grouper were a highly sought-after quarry for fishermen. It is a relatively easy prey for spear fishermen because of the grouper's inquisitive and generally fearless nature. They also tend to spawn in large aggregations, returning annually to the same locations. This makes them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting while breeding.
Goliath groupers eat crustaceans, other fish, octopuses, sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, and barracudas. They are known to attack divers, and have even been seen attacking large lemon sharks.
The Goliath Grouper has been under federal protection since 1990 and it is illegal to remove one from the water in the United States, Carribean, and Brazil.
|Scientific Name:||Epinephelus itajara|
|Environment:||Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore|
|Ideal Temp:||73-82°F (23-28°C)|
|Technique:||Bottom Fishing, Chunking, Jigging|
|Lure Type:||Bottom Rig, Jigs|
|World Record:|| 308.44 kg (680.0 lb) off Fernandina Beach, Florida on May 20, 1961|
|Other Names:||goliath, jewfish|
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