Goliath Grouper | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD


Today on Jonathan Bird’s Blue World, Jonathan goes on a search for the world’s largest grouper! Hi, I’m Jonathan Bird and
welcome to my world! ( ♪ music ) Goliath Groupers! They’re among
the largest reef fish in the
world. They used to be common throughout the Caribbean, but
then their numbers started to
plummet in the 1980s. That’s because everybody wants
to catch an 800-pound fish, so
pretty soon the Goliath Grouper had been fished almost
to extinction. In 1990, the
U.S. Government had to take
drastic measures to protect this fish,
so they passed a law that
banned all fishing of Goliath
Groupers. Now, nineteen years later,
they’re making a remarkable
comeback. The Goliath Grouper is still
very rare. In fact, most divers
have never even seen one. David Doubilet, the
world-famous National
Geographic Magazine
photographer, has invited me to join him and his wife Jen
Hayes (who is also his photo
assistant) on a Goliath Grouper filming expedition. How could I turn down an
invitation like that? So I head
down to beautiful West Palm
Beach in September on a mission to
see one of these magnificent
fish in person. We board the Shearwater, a
large dive boat that will be
our base of operations for a
week. I’m really excited as we pull
away from the dock. Captain Jim
Abernethy is taking us to a shipwreck where the groupers
are known to hide. It’s not far
from the sprawling coastline of West Palm Beach. Since it’s only a ten minute
ride to the first shipwreck
where we will be looking for
Goliath Groupers, I get right to work
putting my gear together. This is great. We’re going to
find some Goliath Groupers.
Maybe they’ll be bigger than me – which isn’t really that hard,
actually. We’ve arrived at the wreck of
the Mizpah, which sits on the
sea floor 80 feet below. The question is: are there any
Goliath Groupers down there? Let’s go find out! After I get in, David and Jen
follow with their still cameras. My cameraman Pierre and I start
descending to the wreck. Once we hit the bottom, Pierre
and I will stay out of David
and Jen’s way. We are greeted by a very strong
current. I can barely hold my
place in the sand. We struggle to make our way to
the wreck where the Goliath
Groupers like to hang out. Shipwrecks are magnets for
fish. That’s because they
provide a great place for fish
to hide and rest on what might
otherwise be a very flat,
featureless sea floor. The shipwrecks off the east
coast of Florida have become
some of the best places to find Goliath Groupers. But a typical
shipwreck only has one or two
of them hanging around. Things are different here in
September. That’s when the
Goliath Groupers get together in large numbers to spawn. We are thrilled to find some
big Goliath Groupers. David is
getting up close and personal
with some big fish! And it looks
like he’s getting some good
pictures too! The groupers don’t like the
current much either, so they
hide behind the wreck the same way one might hide behind
a large object to get out of
the wind. An even better place to hide is
inside the wreck. I make my way
over to a doorway to have a peek into the dark
interior. I’m can see a couple Goliath
Groupers in there. I swim
inside to see if I can get some
closer shots. They tolerate my
presence until I get a little
too close, then they swim away,
spooked by a diver in such close
quarters with them. But outside, they let me get
really close. These Groupers
are surrounded by little silvery fish called cigar minnows. The minnows might look like
they are hiding out of the
current, but they are really
aggregating close to the groupers. What
could they be up to? The Goliath Groupers look like
they are just hanging out, but
they are waiting for something, just like the cigar minnows. Later, when the current
relaxes, dozens of groupers are
gathering together in the water column above the wreck. What’s
going on? It’s the mating
season, and these fish are preparing to spawn—probably at
dusk or after sunset. Unfortunately, I’m low on air
and I need to head back to the
surface. Pierre and I do a safety stop on the anchor
line as we eagerly anticipate
the next dive. That is incredible! Those fish
are so huge – they’re like the
size of refrigerators! Unbelievable! As the massive fish gather into
groups for their evening
spawning, I’m up above getting ready. I hope I don’t miss
anything! These fish only spawn once a
year, in September, during the
full moon, at dusk. And they
only do it for maybe one or two
nights. We know they spawned
last night so this might be my last chance to film this. So, as the sun gets low in the
sky, Pierre and I jump back in
the water. We head back down to the wreck. The Goliath Groupers are all
around the wreck in abundance. These groupers are so large
that they don’t need to worry
about too many predators. With almost no current now, they
head away from the protection
of the wreck into open water. Clouds of cigar minnows stick
to the groupers like glue,
eagerly anticipating millions of delicious eggs that the
groupers will release when they
spawn. The medium sized fish called
jacks make runs at the cigar
minnows to see if they can catch a meal. David is caught up in the
action, photographing the cigar
minnows surrounding the
groupers. I keep looking for any kind of
mating activity, but something
totally unexpected catches my
eye. It’s a manta ray swimming among
the groupers! I move in for a shot of the
ray. It doesn’t seem afraid of
me. And I have to believe it’s no
coincidence that a manta has
shown up here. Mantas are filter feeders and this one is
probably hoping to join the
cigar minnows and feed on some grouper eggs. The manta seems intrigued by
our video lights and she keeps
coming over to me. So I put my camera down and give her a
little belly rub. And then the manta swings
around and says Hi to Pierre!
What a thrill for both of us! Any dive with a manta ray and
fish the size of refrigerators
is definitely a good day at the office! Mantas are awesome but I need
to keep my attention and my
camera focused on the big
groupers so I don’t miss anything. The cigar minnows are crowding
in even tighter to the
Groupers. You can hardly even
tell there’s a big fish in the
middle of all that! It’s an amazing spectacle to
observe. These enormous fish
would make Michael Jordan feel small. And the cigar minnows
are just magical to watch. We see a lot of what looks like
courting, but no spawning.
Maybe the groupers are more bothered by our presence than
they let on. Or maybe they are
waiting until dark. But as it gets later and later,
we are running out of light,
and air. Reluctantly, Pierre and I must head back to the
surface. It looks like the spawning will
happen later in the evening and
I’ll miss it. Back aboard the boat, David and
Jen are looking at their shots. JEN: See that? That is really
nice! Even though we didn’t see the
actual spawning, the dive was
still well worth the effort. That was an incredible
experience. Those fish are just
majestic, covered with all those beautiful fish. We didn’t
actually see the spawning event
– not sure if maybe they’re doing it now – but we finally
had to come up. We ran out of
time and it was really dark, but – unbelievable – that was
something that I will never
forget. The Goliath Grouper is a
spectacular example of
successful marine conservation.
This vulnerable fish was pushed to the very
brink of extinction, but was
saved at the last minute by
laws to protect them. In less than 20
years, they have made a strong
comeback. And although their population has not yet
fully recovered, they are well
on the way. ( ♪ music )

100 thoughts on “Goliath Grouper | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

  1. As a frequent diver in Florida I can tell you that they are not even close to rare. I’ve been diving for two years and have seen well over 100 Goliath’s. Some reefs have dozens. Almost every artificial reef in Florida have multiple on it.

  2. you know lionfish are a problem when the only thing that hunts them is groupers and only when they arent fully grown

  3. Human beings especially of a certain variety will kill and destroy and eat anything as long as it makes money. The world is dying because its skin which are forests is being stripped. Forests create rain and absorb carbon dioxide. That is why the earth is drier in parts, wetter in parts, warmer in parts and colder in parts. Soon it is all going to fail and no comeback. But people just don't seem to realise that they cannot survive on money.

  4. Love this wreck, its always a go to when I'm out in FL, also the blue heron bridge always has some eagle rays hanging out.

  5. Spawning in the dark might be a good survival instinct to increase the likelihood of eggs not becoming food for sea creatures that feed under daylight.

  6. Was in the water with a very similar fish the Queensland Groper very intimidating animal got right in my face. Still awesome though.

  7. Man, those Cigar Fish are like mosquitoes on a horse. Poor Groupers..can't mate in peace. Population control I guess.

  8. “ Manta Ray Doesn’t seems afraid of me.” Hi Jonathan, after watching the thresher shark in Malapascua island, then suddenly a Manta Ray appeared. Perhaps they like you ?. Enjoyed your video. Thank you.

  9. I’m kinda curious, wouldn’t it be better to catch a female and male so they can mate without the fishes eating their eggs? In that way you can increase the population faster?

  10. Sharky says one of those groupers would make a great sharky meal by himself!!! I just say wow, even though you didn't catch the spawning itself, the build-up was impressive!!! Also nice of the manta to say hi!!!

  11. Thanks to God for you, Jonathan. I only get to see these wonderful, breathtaking underwater creatures through your HD videos and not in real life.

  12. Fortunately nowadays for Goliath Groupers as I'm sure Jonathan knows in U.S. waters anglers are only allowed to catch and release, their not even allowed to bring them aboard their boat and that in itself is wonderful because it is the big males and females that reproduce and bring about the next generation, without them the species would be in significant danger of extinction and we definitely don't want that!

  13. Some of the reefs in the west coast of florida has tons of them. Actually they might have reverse the ban on harvesting them.

  14. Can you imagine you coming to your house and then you see this guy Jonathan says welcome to my house, it's the same concept as Welcome to our world.

  15. I like how docile and even a bit curious of people they seem. They sort of chill and get a look and hang out.

  16. With that many cigar minnows waiting for the eggs, it would be a miracle if some eggs will see the next day. The eggs will be devoured within minutes.

  17. In Philippines got giant grouper it look like 3.4 feet in jesicaso film it make scared but the monster is look like fake but is look real the guy found U.F.O

  18. "They look like refrigerator" – funny line. I wish to see them in person, maybe they look like a truck. Hilarious.

  19. As an ex/commercial diver that got burnt out of diving, this video makes me want to return…love the ocean

  20. Why does it seem like a bunch of animals were on the brink of Extinction in the 19 hundreds but laws were passed at the last second and are now making a recovery! They should've passed laws before they even got anywhere near that close to extinction! ? Anyway, I loved this video Jonathan! It was beautiful!

  21. Everytime I see Mantiray butting in in your videos I feel like they are the angels in the sea. So beautiful ?

  22. People wanna catch them, cause man ain't happy unless they kill! And some are careless with their nets and fishing lines. I say leave things alone!

  23. I'm watching and writing at same time! I'm amazed at these adorable big fish. And you can even touch them! Wow! That's a pretty Ray too. Do you ever get scared? I would! I'd try it, but it would be a lot different then watching it on my sofa. ?

  24. They are not rare anymore off the Florida coast. You can catch them almost "at will" on reefs and wrecks all along the east coast of Florida. You can't keep them, but they are not difficult to find or catch.

  25. I think you should dive in ripples aquarium and it is In Gatlinburg Tennessee it as many types of fish mostly sharks like sand tiger and why can’t a white sharks live in aquariums p.s I’m his son pp.s I like your shows

  26. Maybe.. if you had brought more bottles of oxygen and battery for lights… you wouldn’t have missed it? I really want to see them spawning as much as you do….

  27. I was born and raised in SW Florida. They were/are EVERYWHERE. I have gone down many times to a reef, and all that is there are Goliaths. They eat anything that swims in front of them. I am glad they have made a come back. They are far from rare in my neck of the woods.

  28. They said in this video that These Groupers carry 1000's of eggs . Why dont they Catch some of them @ " Spawning Season " get their eggs, mix it with the milt of Several males and raise them in a Oceanic Hatchery ? ! That would bring their Numbers Back Significantly and Quite Quick at that ? !

  29. I’ve seen one. I’m 6’3 and I was lying down next to it under a rock and it was still like 3 feet long than me was like 5x as fat they are such a fantastic fish

  30. Not gonna lie. This is one extremely intimidating fish! You can't possibly know or understand what I'm saying, unless you've been up close and personal with one of these beauties…. looks so much like an extremely over sized big mouth bass. It actually fears nothing.

  31. Makes no sense if they know that the fish spawn at night why the heck do they waste all there air during the day and why dont they take lights and night dive or just leave remote control cameras dow there ?? Is it me ir do these suggestions sound like basic common sense!!!

  32. YouTube algorithm at again. I'm in the Congo, in the jungle. I've never seen the ocean yet this video was recommended to me. Nice.

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