Goliath Grouper


Epinephelus itajara

Illustration and Copyright by Diane Rome Peebles
Illustrations are for viewing purposes only.

Description: head and fins covered with small black spots; irregular dark and vertical bars present on the sides of body; pectoral and caudal fins rounded; first dorsal fin shorter than and not separated from second dorsal; adults huge, up to 800 pounds; eyes small.

Similar Fish: other grouper.

Where found: NEARSHORE often around docks, in deep holes, and on ledges; young often occur in estuaries, especially around oyster bars; more abundant in southern Florida than in northern waters.

Size: largest of the groupers.

Remarks: spawns over summer months; lifespan of 30 to 50 years; feeds on crustaceans and fish.

Stock Status: According to a 2011 SEDAR 23 Benchmark Stock Assessment, Goliath grouper are overfished, but overfishing is not occurring.  The fishery is currently closed, but harvest for research has been conducted to determine the age composition of the population.  No assessment of goliath grouper is currently scheduled.

NOTE: Harvest of Goliath grouper, commonly called jewfish, is prohibited in Federal waters.