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Goliath grouper

Goliath grouper

(Epinephelus itajara)

The goliath grouper is found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Florida to southern Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. It also occurs in the eastern Atlantic along parts of the coast of Africa and in the eastern Pacific from the Gulf of California to Peru. It prefers rocky or coral reefs in shallow marine waters, although sometimes it enters estuarine areas. This grouper can reach a length of 8 feet and weigh 1000 pounds. It is the largest grouper in the Atlantic Ocean.

The goliath grouper is an ambush predator that strikes in a quick lunge powered by its broad caudal fin and wide caudal peduncle. It expands its mouth during its attack to suck in its prey before it can escape. It preys on crustaceans, fish and rays.

Come see the goliath grouper in the Gray’s Reef exhibit in the Georgia Explorer gallery.

Fun Facts

  • The goliath grouper lives for over 35 years.
  • It uses the strong suction of its large mouth to vacuum lobsters from crevices in the rocks.
  • This species will produce a loud booming sound with its swim bladder when startled or cornered.
  • The goliath grouper was formerly called the “jewfish”.
  • This species, like most other grouper, has been heavily overfished and it is considered to be critically endangered.
  • Download full fact sheet

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