Giant Sized Fish Declared A New Species!

Look How Big I’ve Gotten…

These fish can reach extremely large sizes. They can grow to lengths of 6 to 8 feet, and weigh as much as 800 to 1000 pounds, and they have been identified as a new species. Found primarily in shallow tropical waters among coral and artificial reefs at depths of up to 165 feet (50 m), they feed off of fish, crab, octopuses, and other marine life.

They are called The Pacific Goliath grouper, and their range includes the area from the Gulf of California to Peru, and are a cousin to the equally large, and more endangered Atlantic Goliath grouper. Scientists had previously grouped the Pacific Goliath with the Atlantic Goliath, but due to advancements in genetic testing, they are now more able to differentiate between the genetic codes for the two fishes. Leading Marine biologists now think that millions of years ago these two species were the same, but when present-day Panama separated the divide between the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean they diverged.

This has happened many times before to other species in our history. For example, when islands separate from mainlands, species that were once the same can end up evolving differently due to their now different environmental circumstances. Another example would be when species migrate to different habitats, and then some groups are stranded, and if they survive, continue to evolve and adapt to a different living environment than their originators faced. Some scientists even think that’s how we as humans evolved, and how other species of humans may have died out through evolutionary history.

The new Pacific species is described in a recent issue of the journal: Endangered Species Research. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), wants the Pacific Goliath categorized as a separate endangered species than its cousin the Atlantic Grouper, that way they can receive better management and conservationist efforts. The Atlantic variety, is currently listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. Considered of fine food quality, the Goliath grouper were a highly sought after quarry for fishermen of all types. Both species may face equal future extinction if conservation efforts don’t continue to improve.

The Goliath grouper’s inquisitive and generally fearless nature make it a relatively easy prey for spear fishermen. Similar to Salmon, they also tend to spawn in large aggregations returning like clockwork to the same locations making them particularly vulnerable to mass harvesting. Until a harvest ban was placed on the species, they were in rapid decline. The U.S. began protection in 1990 and the Caribbean in 1993. The species’ population has been recovering since the ban, however with the fish’s slow growth rate it will take some time for populations to return to their previous levels.

Millions of Years of evolution, and environmental changes, and we humans can come in and possibly wipe it out in a few hundred years. It’s really a humbling thing to consider.


~ by drcorner on August 23, 2008.

10 Responses to “Giant Sized Fish Declared A New Species!”

  1. interesting article, but if this fish was frequent prey and also in shallow water, why did it take so long to get noticed? also, ive seen groupers before, even eaten them (yummers) what makes this fish different from other groupers? cause ive seen some big ones….

  2. I have seen these gigantic fish on the discovery channel. I think they appeared on Planet Earth Deep Blue series. It a shame that anything as to become endangered or extinct. Who is to blame, people or natural causes. Majority of the time it is humans, because we consume so much natural resources and pollute our air and water systems. Humans need to take more pride of earth, and the effort to do so will not effect daily lifestyles.

    Some examples:

    Do not throw dead batteries or electronics in the trash. Save them in a box and when the box gets full take them to a proper recycling center and call someone like Good Earth and they will come and pick up electronics and such. By doing so we will not overcrowd our landfills and will not toxic our soil and water.

    Anything that is recyclable recycle it. Again this will help the overcrowding issues in our land fills and decrease the amount of green house gasses released in our air.

    Switch out those Incandescent light-bulbs and none energy star products. You will greatly decrease green house gasses and at the save time save you some money.

    Stop littering, if we throw away trash instead of being lazy and dumping it on our streets, we can stop the toxification of soil and water and will prevent animals from getting stuck in litter (mainly those plastic things that hold 6 can sodas) and dying.

    Fishing, clean up that twisted line or lines go stock, Birds and Fish get caught in these things all the time and end up dying. This also goes for those large fishing vessels.

    Poachers, need to stop doing what they do. This land is much theirs as it is yours. We need to stop killing whales for oil, stop killing turtles just for their brains, stop killing tigers and lions.

    Building, We need to just stop the massive building that we do. We keep stripping more and more land forcing the animals to come to cities and suburban areas for food. Then when they become sick they usually attack humans.

    If I had the time I could write pages and pages, but what people do not realize is that when the animals are gone we are gone. When animals contain toxic materials, viruses, diseases, humans get affected. And we have been seeing this a lot in the news lately. Also this is why you should not eat fish more then 3x a week because you can get Mercury poisoning from fish.

    Anyways great article, just a shame since it is most likely the humans fault, like white rhinos and the other thousands if not millions of species.

  3. [re:] mrd1, you know the routine, so many species are in plain sight getting slaughtered, and only when it gets critical do people actually care (see Polar Bears, Wolves, etc.). As for this particular species of grouper, if I remember correctly it was because they discovered a lot of new genetic markers that differentiated it from the Atlantic grouper (which they thought were both one in the same).

  4. Thanks for the comments Charles (and you too mrd1), I agree that these species should never be lost for good (unless natural evolution played out). Think about this though, besides all the human causes of endangered animals, what about the natural cause you mention, how many of those can be attributed to humans as well? Glaciers were eventually going to melt anyway (history shows the Ice Ages happening in cycles), but how many Millions-of-Years did we cut of the next cycle? That’s just one example to consider.

    [re:] building, I have compromise that may make all parties happy:

    1. Build greener (use re-usable and sustainable materials)
    2. Build up.

    With improved architectural and engineering technologies each year, it becomes more feasible each day to build safer and taller structures. Japan for example, has the perfect mentality. With limited space on an Island that’s in an earthquake zone, they’re able to build HUGE towers that sustain hundreds (and in the future thousands) of people, many of which are planned mini-cities that are completely self-supporting and carbon-neutral.

    These are just many of small steps that I think enable us to be more efficient and cleaner people, while still maintaining our normal quality of life (ie: far less sacrifice required, while still producing great results).

  5. Hello drcorner,
    Thankyou for visiting my blog before and leaving your comment and info. Much appreciated. Feel free to stop by anytime and say hi.

  6. Definitely an interesting read.

    I can’t understand terms like ‘carbon neutral’ being totally awed by biology and chemistry (so i didn’t take them for higher studies) but well, i got the article all right!

  7. […] goliath grouper fishery in action can be found on Flickr, and there is more on this story at the DR Corner. From Science Daily (press release): “For more than a century, ichthyologists have thought […]

  8. [re:] rainbowaura, Anytime and thank you for you the visit and will surely return the favor for future posts on your blog, and look forward to future ones from you here as well.

    [re:] misspecs, I’m glad you understood the overall article. Think of carbon-neutral like this: You know how they’re always saying that gases like carbon-dioxide are the biggest contributors to global warming? Well, being carbon-neutral means that you try and limit your addition to that (being greener). One of my goals is trying to show how you can be greener while not sacrificing a lot of your normal life)

    This means that you the way you do things or products you buy/use should either emit cleaner by-products or none at all, thus, being less of a carbon contributor to global warming. Sometimes you might also see the term carbon-neutral interchanged with the term carbon-footprint (which is an estimated measure of how much you contribute to global warming by showing it to you in a picture).

    [re:] The Conservation Report, thanks for the credit/reference in your article, and for the visit.

  9. They can grow to lengths of 6 to 8 feet, and weigh as much as 800 to 1000 pounds.

    Wow. Can’t say I wouldn’t be paddling back to the shore in a panicked frenzy after seeing that pass under & around me.

  10. 😆 , Most probably would, what with those menacing teeth and their sheer size.

    But in all honesty they’re fairly harmless to us…more like gentle giants. The girl scuba-diving in the third photo (the one with the red Goliath), is close enough to get a “look-at-me” shot. 😆

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