ScubaNerds Goliath Grouper

The Behemoth of Florida Waters: Goliath Grouper

Many people believe sharks to be the scariest creatures found underwater, not the Goliath Grouper. Unbeknownst to them is another majestic creature more fearsome than the sharks. It lurks in the corals and artificial reefs of shallow tropical waters.

There are around 159 species of grouper that exist underwater. But a particular species, called the Goliath Grouper, was once counted as critically endangered. Over the years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) made efforts to grow the population of this species. Thanks to the organization’s efforts, the Goliath Grouper is no longer critically endangered.

The regulations implemented in 1990 also helped protect the species. Not only that but it also led the Goliath Grouper to spawn some more. 2005 was a remarkable year. It was the first time that the Atlantic Goliath Grouper was successfully bred in captivity. Sadly, the IUCN still records the species as one vulnerable to extinction and decreasing in number.

What’s So Special About The Goliath Grouper?

This behemoth is enormous in size and can weigh up to 680 pounds. That makes them much bigger and larger than sharks. Take note that the Goliath Grouper is a fish, not even a whale or another classification of shark. So if you think that sharks are the scariest creatures underwater, they’re not. In fact, the Goliath Grouper preys upon the sharks. Other than the sharks, they have also been preying off much fish the fishermen are after. As a result, many fishermen illegally kill the Goliath Grouper.

The size of this prehistoric massive fish makes it a trophy for fishing enthusiasts. But despite the pride and glory it brings, many choose to release it or leave it dead underwater.

This is because the possession of the species is illegal. People catch Goliath Grouper for different reasons. Some catch it as a trophy. While some, like the fishermen, want it dead to have fewer opponents in catching the smaller fish.

The Goliath Grouper grows up to 8.2 feet and can weigh up to 800 pounds. The largest caught by hook and line in Florida is about 680 pounds.

Check this video to see the actual size of a Goliath Grouper:

Where can I find these majestic Goliath Groupers?

The Florida Keys or West Palm Beach is the place to visit!

To spot one of these Goliath Groupers, check out the shipwrecks as they’re fond of hanging around those places. It’s best to go during summertime, or September if you hope to watch them spawn.

They spawn on the full-moon of September at dusk, watch out for it because it’s a glorious sight to behold.

Jonathan Bird documented one of their underwater trips featuring the Goliath Grouper:

If you got no luck in finding the Goliath Groupers in the Florida Keys or around the Gulf of Mexico, check out other topical waters like the Bahamas, the Caribbean, or the Brazilian coast!

Are they scary and dangerous?

The Goliath Grouper draws different sentiments from those who frequent the sea. Some fishermen in the Philippines fear the Goliath Grouper. Even more than sharks. In contrast to that, many divers look forward to seeing the Goliath Grouper. In addition, they even consider it a glorious and majestic experience to swim with the said species.

Goliath Grouper in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen from SeaLegacy on Vimeo.


The Goliath Groupers swim slowly but with power. They also like to take whatever they see whenever they want. Which explains the number of videos on YouTube where they take items like cameras, fins, and other items divers bring underwater.

Although the Goliath Groupers have weaker teeth compared to the sharks, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be cautious around them. Because to make up for their weak teeth, they suck in their prey. So when your long wait is gone and you meet this fish, make sure to keep a safe distance.

Ready to Meet the Goliath Grouper?

What do you think?

Are you ready to meet the behemoth of Florida waters also known as the Goliath Grouper?
Consult some guides in Florida if you are. If not, visit SeaLegacy to learn how you can support the conservation of the Goliath Grouper.