Spearfisherman gives a goliath grouper a good head pat.
One of the ocean's most incredible predators is the gigantic goliath grouper. This vulnerable species of saltwater fish can grow over eight feet in length and weigh upwards of 800 pounds. This makes them apex predators in their domain. These fish have even been known to eat small sharks on occasion.
In the warm waters of Florida, divers, especially spearfishermen, regularly encounter these large fish on the reefs. In today's video, a diver is seeking out invasive lionfish on the reef when a goliath becomes interested in the fisherman's catch.
Showing absolutely no fear of the human, the goliath swims in for a closer look, prompting the diver to pet the large fish!
This was an incredible encounter. Not many people get to observe the famous goliath grouper in its natural habitat like this. Just look at the size of that fish's fins as compared to the head of these divers. When people talk about hooking the big one, this is the kind of fish they are talking about!
Unfortunately, the goliath grouper was over-fished for many years in many parts of the world, leading to a rapid decline. People are still allowed to fish for this species, but it is strictly catch-and-release only. The harvest of all goliaths in the U.S. was halted in the early 1990s to give the fish a chance to rebound. It's likely they will be protected for many more decades because it takes juvenile fish years to reach maturity.
Most anglers seem happy with catch-and-release if it means the survival of the species. They truly are a cool-looking fish. That grouper hardly reacted to being petted by the fisherman. Which I guess comes with the territory when you're so large that there is no other predator in the sea that can be of any danger to you!