02 December 2008

Baby Goliaths Can't Hide

Goliath Grouper (Epinephelus itajara), Critically Endangered

The Critically Endangered Goliath Grouper is the largest grouper in the Atlantic, growing more than 2 meters (6 feet) long, weighing more than 450 kg (1000 lbs), and living up to 40 years. Recently, the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) used an underwater acoustic camera system (similar to the sonar dolphins or bats use) to visualize baby Goliaths among the murky waters of mangrove roots. Baby Goliaths, up to 1 meter long, spend the first 5-6 years of their lives, almost exclusively in and amongst the waters around mangroves.

Conservation action began in 1990 when the US placed a moratorium on fishing, and the Caribbean did the same in 1993. Though the population has increased it will take many years for numbers to recover to previous levels. Additionally, in some areas, fishing continues despite the bans. It is sometimes difficult to accurately assess the recovery of the species, in part because of the inability to visualize Baby Goliath numbers in murky and cloudy waters. The new camera system used by ORCA should alleviate this problem, and make surveys of Goliath populations easier.

Read an article here.

Donate to Ocean Futures, an Ocean Conservation that has worked to conserve the Goliath Grouper in the past.


Kelly Anne said...

cool story, amazing photo, who took the picture?

Greg said...

Kelly, the photo was taken by Michael Patrick O’Neill. It won an award in the Nature’s Best 2007 Photography Competition.