When people talk about coral reefs, fishermen tend to shrug their shoulders and complain about snagged lines and torn nets. But when you talk about groupers, they suddenly sit up and pay attention. Groupers are among the economically most important fishes of the coral reef, because of their popularity as food. Yet without the coral reef there would probably be no groupers. For this reason, groupers are an extremely important indicator species and your record of their existence or non-existence during your dive tells us a lot.

The goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara), sometimes called the jewfish is classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Found in shallow, inshore waters to depths of 45m, this indicator prefers areas of rock, coral, and mud bottoms. It is also solitary and territorial and feeds on crustaceans. The largest member of the Sea Bass family in the Atlantic Ocean, it can reach lengths of 2.5m, and weigh up to 450kg. There is anecdotal evidence of Goliaths stalking and attempting to eat divers!

Like all indicators, it is valuable if you can record the particular species you sight. However, recording the total number of groupers is just as important. The species that we would most like you to record are listed below for the Caribbean, tropical eco-region:

  • Bigeyed Grouper Epinephelus mystacinus
  • Black Grouper Epinephelus mystacinus
  • Black Grouper Mycteroperca bonaci
  • Brown Grouper Epinephelus morio
  • Comb Grouper Mycteroperca rubra
  • Day Grouper Epinephelus striatus
  • Grouper Epinephelus flavolimbatus
  • Grouper Epinephelus itajara
  • Lucky Grouper Epinephelus guttatus
  • Marbled Grouper Dermatolepis inermis
  • Misty Grouper Epinephelus mystacinus
  • Mossy Grouper Alphestes afer
  • Nassau Grouper Epinephelus striatus
  • Poey’s Grouper Epinephelus flavolimbatus
  • Red Grouper Epinephelus morio
  • Rock Grouper Epinephelus adscensionis
  • Salmon Grouper Mycteroperca interstitialis
  • Stinging Grouper Scorpaena plumieri plumieri
  • Small Grouper Alphestes afer
  • Snowy Grouper Epinephelus niveatus
  • Spotted Grouper Epinephelus niveatus
  • Small Grouper Cephalopholis fulva
  • Tiger Grouper Mycteroperca tigris
  • Yellowfin Grouper Epinephelus flavolimbatus
  • White Grouper Epinephelus striatus
  • White Grouper Epinephelus flavolimbatus
  • Yellowfin Grouper Mycteroperca venenosa
  • Yellowmouth Grouper Mycteroperca interstitialis