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 Japan/Asia, sub-tropical eco-region:

  • Blacksaddled Coralgrouper Plectropomus laevis 125cm
  • Brown-marbled Grouper Epinephelus fuscoguttatus 120cm
  • Brownspotted Grouper Epinephelus chlorostigma 75cm
  • Camouflage Grouper Epinephelus polyphekadion 90cm
  • Comet Grouper Epinephelus morrhua 90cm
  • Convict Grouper Epinephelus septemfasciatus 155cm
  • Dotted Grouper Epinephelus epistictus 80cm
  • Duskytail Grouper Epinephelus bleekeri 76cm
  • Eightbar Grouper Epinephelus octofasciatus 130cm
  • Giant Grouper Epinephelus lanceolatus 270cm
  • Greasy Grouper Epinephelus tauvina 213cm
  • Highfin Coralgrouper Plectropomus oligacanthus 75cm
  • Leopard Coralgrouper Plectropomus leopardus 120cm
  • Longtooth Grouper Epinephelus bruneus 128cm
  • Misty Grouper Epinephelus mystacinus 160cm
  • Malabar Grouper Epinephelus malabaricus 234cm
  • Oblique-banded Grouper Epinephelus radiatus 70cm
  • Orange-spotted Grouper Epinephelus coioides 120cm
  • Potato Grouper Epinephelus tukula 200cm
  • Roving Grouper Plectropomus pessuliferus 120cm
  • Seamount Grouper Epinephelus suborbitalis 118cm
  • Spotted Coral grouper Plectropomus maculatus 100cm
  • Squaretail Coral grouper Plectropomus areolatus 73cm
  • Striped Grouper Epinephelus latifasciatus 137cm
  • Speckled Blue Grouper Epinephelus cyanopodus 122cm
  • Wavy-lined Grouper Epinephelus undulosus 75cm
  • Whitespotted Grouper Epinephelus coeruleopunctatus 76cm